Insight from energy insider Former oil executive to speak at Moravian Manor event

By on August 31, 2011

By: ROCHELLE A. SHENK Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer



John Hofmeister
former Shell Oil presidentJohn Hofmeister
former Shell Oil president

Energy is a topic that’s in the news and on our minds a lot these days. Moravian Manor is hosting a thought-provoking evening with energy insider and former Shell Oil president John Hofmeister on Monday, Oct. 24.

"Energy Solutions that Make Sense: Taking Politics Out of Energy" will be held in the Heritage Ballroom at the Lancaster Marriott Penn Square. A VIP reception and book signing will be held at 6 p.m., with dinner at 7.

Nicole Michael, Moravian Manor director of marketing, said the event, called Engaging Community, is annual.

"We want to do something a little different, something to create an awareness of Moravian Manor as well as engage the community. Energy is a hot topic and something everyone can relate to. Nearly everyone buys gas for their vehicle and pays to heat their home," she explained.

Hofmeister, a Lancaster native, retired from Shell Oil Company in 2008. He founded and now heads up the non-profit nationwide membership association, Citizens for Affordable Energy. This public policy education firm promotes sound U.S. energy security solutions for the nation. Last year, he published his book, "Why We Hate Oil Companies: Straight Talk from an Energy Insider."

"The future of energy is a very important part of the nation’s future. People should learn with great concern that we are not taking steps to secure our energy future, and this has been going on for decades. In this decade we will find ourselves short of energy and we have only ourselves to blame," Hofmeister said during a phone interview.

He points out that the U.S. has more energy than it will ever need, yet the American people are led to believe that the nation faces the potential of running out of traditional forms of energy. However, there are solutions that are pragmatic, comprehensive and doable.

"We have set up man-made obstacles that prevent us from keeping energy affordable, available and sustainable. It is the politics of energy that hold back affordable energy. If energy is not affordable, what good is it? If it’s only available to the wealthy, what about the rest of us," he stressed.

He noted that for most people high energy costs means choices. If one is using more disposable income for energy needs, there’s less for other needs.

"Government should not be allowed to make energy unaffordable to the common people," he said.

He also pointed out public policy prohibits increased domestic production.

"The only reason energy is becoming more expensive is that we’re holding back supply," he said. "Often the discussion on domestic production centers on debate on ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) drilling, but there are bigger opportunities, both off the cost of Alaska and off Bristol Bay (southwest Alaska)."

He adds that the energy should also be sustainable.

"I’m not a ‘drill, baby, drill’ guy. I believe that there should be a land, water and air investment plan for every energy use. That plan would detail how the areas would be put back into shape after energy is tapped. We need to maintain a balance," he explained.

He’s hoping to inspire people that attend the Engaging Community program to act upon the information that’s presented.

"I want to make sure that they, their family and friends, and the community at large are made aware of the challenges we face. They should act on that knowledge by holding public officials responsible for the public policy on energy. Private corporations, not the government, can solve our long-term energy problems, but it may make sense to impose parameters so they don’t destroy the environment at the same time," he said.

Hofmeister’s viewpoint has not changed now that he is no longer with Shell. "The very same message that I’m presenting now is what I gave as president of Shell," he affirms.

While at Shell, Hofmeister launched an extensive outreach program, unprecedented in the energy industry, to discuss critical global energy challenges. The program included an 18-month, 50-city tour across the country during which Hofmeister led 250 other Shell leaders to meet with more than 15,000 business, community and civic leaders, policymakers and academics to discuss what must be done to ensure affordable, available energy for the future.

Hofmeister now serves as chairman of the National Urban League and is a member of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technical Advisory Committee. He is senior advisor to two energy start-ups — Liberty Power of Fort Lauderdale and NewEarth Technologies of Seattle. He also serves on the boards of the Foreign Policy Association, Strategic Partners, LLC, and the Gas Technology Institute.

He’s hoping that people heed his call to action and is looking forward to sharing information with Lancaster area residents. Although he’s based in Houston, he and his wife, Karen, own Lime Valley Mill Farm in Willow Street.

"I’m always appreciative of what Lancaster County gave to me," he said. "It’s important that people who helped raise me get the benefit of what I’ve learned."

For Hofmeister, the opportunity to speak in Lancaster is one way to give back to the community. That same thought of giving back, and an appreciation of history, underlies the restoration effort of his mill.

He will also be giving back in another way on Oct. 24. Prior to the evening event at the Lancaster Marriott, he will be meeting with Warwick High School students from Carolyn Hoy’s gifted class and residents from Moravian Manor for an open dialogue. Janice Estabrook, gifted education and enrichment coordinator at Lancaster-Lebanon IU 13, will also have students participating.

Michael said participants in the discussion will be provided with referral sources to read beforehand.

"This is a great multi-generational opportunity. We want to continue to foster our relationship with Warwick High School and other educational partners," she said.

Tickets to the Engaging Community program are available for $85 each. Proceeds benefit Moravian Manor’s Senior Care Ministry. To receive an invitation and RSVP card by mail, call Nicole Michael at 626-0214 or e-mail NicoleM@moravianmanor.org. Or visit online at moravianmanor.org to print out the RSVP card.

Table and other sponsorship opportunities are also available. For more information on sponsorship, contact Diane Ford, CFRE, Director of Development, at 626-0214. More ENERGY, page A16