North Dakota's robust and diverse energy sector can provide a model for creating jobs and help reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil, officials said Monday.
Sen. John Hoeven and Gov. Jack Dalrymple were among the speakers at the Renewable Energy Action Summit in Bismarck. They, along with government and industry officials, said North Dakota's energy policy has expanded traditional and renewable energy sources, advanced technology, provided certainty for developers, spurred investment and created jobs.
"The comprehensive state energy plan that we launched a decade ago is driving an energy agenda that is more diversified than at any time in our history," Hoeven said. "In a nutshell, we need to figure out at the national level how we did it in North Dakota."
North Dakota's "integrated energy policy," which includes everything from crude oil and coal to wind energy and ethanol cooked from corn is a "great template, a great blueprint on how we may do that on the national scale," said Dana Christensen, deputy director of the U.S. Energy Department's renewable energy laboratory in Colorado.
Christensen called North Dakota a "fossil fuel juggernaut" that also has some of the greatest potential for wind-generated electricity and other renewable energy sources.
Oil production in North Dakota has jumped more than sevenfold in the past decade to more than 600,000 barrels daily, positioning the state only behind Texas, the nation's No.1 oil producer.
While North Dakota's oil boom is well-known, the state also has experienced boomlets in wind-generated electricity and ethanol and biofuel production over the past few years that have been overshadowed by oil, officials said.
North Dakota has grown from less than a half a megawatt of wind power generation to more than 1,400 watts in the past decade, ranking the state as the ninth in wind energy. The state's ethanol production has grown tenfold in the past decade to about 400 million gallons annually.
Just five years ago, the state set a goal to double energy production from all sources by 2025. Dalrymple said that mark has nearly been reached.
"That's almost laughable now," Dalrymple said. "We'll have to reset it."
Phyllis Cuttino, director of the clean energy program at the Pew Charitable Trusts, called North Dakota "a real leader of energy of all types." She said a comprehensive national energy policy is lacking and deters investment in renewable energy.
She said a "steady, recognizable" national energy policy, like that in North Dakota, would spur investment in renewable energy.
The governor said North Dakota has set clear guidelines for energy development of all types and has worked with industry to develop projects.
"(Industry) find us realistic to deal with and not bureaucratic," Dalrymple said. "We are people who can make a decision and move forward."