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Robert Wegener, Oklahoma energy official, pushes alternatives

BY ROD WALTON - Tulsa World Published: February 12, 2009

/> The state and nation should consider natural gas for fleet vehicles and to take some of the burden off of foreign oil imports, Wegener added. It may also buy time until the next generation of power sources, possibly biofuels, becomes market ready.

"Natural gas: this is the perfect bridge fuel,” the energy secretary said. "It’s going to be part of any alternative energy future we have.”

Utility companies also will have to embrace demand side technology, such as innovations to help consumers use less energy to heat or cool their homes.

Business logic normally discourages producers from investing in technologies that encourages less consumption, he admitted.

But the truth is that delaying the need for new power generation is cost-effective, Wegener said. For instance, producing 1,000 megawatts of nuclear-fired power can cost about $6 billion, while the same level of coal-fired generation costs $2.5 billion, according to reports.

"It’s cheaper to buy efficiency than buy new generation sources,” Wegener said.

"Natural gas: this is the perfect bridge fuel.”

Robert Wegener
Oklahoma Energy Secretary