Energy Influencers #51 – #55

Energy Influencers #51 – #55

Here’s the next group that you’ll get to meet:

  #46 Ralph Cavanagh (Co-Director at Natural Resources Defense Council) 
  #47 Maria Cantwell (United States Senator from the State of Washington)
  #48 Scott Brown (CEO and Managing Partner at New Energy Capital)
  #49 Eric Besson (French Minister of Industry, Energy and the Digital Economy)
  #50 Alan Armstrong (Chairman & CEO of Williams Partners GP LLC)


 #51 Daniel Yergin

Co-Founder & Chairman at IHS CERA

Washington, D.C.

20 years after “The [Pulitzer] Prize”, Daniel Yergin has released “The Quest.”

As chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA), Dr. Daniel Yergin is one of the most influential consultants in the oil industry, award-winning author, historian and leading authority on energy, international politics and economics.

IHS is often commissioned by various industries to conduct studies. One of its energy divisions, IHS CERA, was founded by Yergin and is considered to have some of the best data and analysis available.

In September 2011, Yergin published his 804-page “The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World”, which continued his history begun in “The Prize” of the global oil industry but also addressed energy security, natural gas, electric power, climate change and the search for renewable sources of energy.

Nearing the summit of this 804-page mountain of a book “you may find the dead bodies of those who did not make it all the way”, but the view at the top may well be worth the sacrifices.

While this sequel to “The Prize” is a literary event, “The Quest” will not be without controversy. Yergin and his firm (CERA) have spent the last two decades earning millions of dollars a year in fees from the oil companies and executives about whom he is writing.

Yergin speaks often about energy and his book.  And while he has even appeared on Time’s list of “People Who Mattered in 2011,” he also has his critics.

But while Yergin has not always been perfect in his predictions, he does offer up a point that we all can agree on: “there isn’t one single solution that provides the answer.” 

 #52 Floyd Wilson

Chairman & CEO of Petrohawk Energy

Houston, Texas

Like many of our #Energy100 Influencers involved in oil and gas exploration & production (E&P), Floyd Wilson has the ambitions, the knowledge and the exit strategies of a venture capitalist (VC).  Wilson and VCs alike know how to take risks, create value and make nice returns.

Petrohawk Energy was founded by Wilson in 2004 and became a dominant player in the Haynesville and Eagle Ford shale plays in Texas and Louisiana, and a premier position holder in the Fayetteville Shale in Arkansas.

Wilson ran several other companies prior to Petrohawk Energy which were successfully sold at high premiums. Wilson’s goal for Petrohawk back in 2004 was to position this company to be sold as well.

Built early on by acquisitions, the company spent aggressively to work its way to a new position where it had decent long-term growth potential.  But Petrohawk needed new sources of capital to explore its shale gas holdings and sold eight major assets since March 2010.

Then Wilson finally did what everyone was expecting him to do….he sold Petrohawk outright.

BHP Billiton acquired the company in July 2011 in an all cash offer for $38.75 per share ($15.1 billion).  No one quite expected the 65% premium, especially since Petrohawk had a “For Sale” sign on its front lawn for years, but in 2011 foreign suitors seemed to be very generous ones. 

In December Wilson was at it again and landed as CEO and part owner of RAM Energy Resources, teaming with other investors to buy a majority stake in the company.  RAM will accelerate drilling in the Mississippian oil play in Oklahoma using the Halcon Resources name and $550 million investment.

Wilson has an outstanding track record of successfully growing small-cap exploration and production companies into value-rich large-cap enterprises.  He also knows the secret to E&P success: independents find and prove the big play and ultimately get taken out by the deep pocketed major players.   Once again, well played Mr. Wilson.

#53 Jon Wellinghoff

Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee

Washington, D.C.

As FERC chairman Jon Wellinghof has been at the forefront of new energy technologies such as renewable integration, plug-in electric vehicles, and the modernization of the nation’s electric grid.

Wellinghof has also described himself as “…a soldier fighting in an epic battle for demand response.”  Demand response allows customers reduce their electricity usage at critical times or in response to market prices.  In return utilities offer rates that reflect the variation in electricity costs over a daily or hourly basis, or incentives to reduce the electric load at peak times

FERC regulates electricity markets in every state but Texas and has taken an active role in encouraging greater demand-response efforts from utilities.  In 2010 FERC came out with a report titled a “National Action Plan on Demand Response.”  Then in March 2011 the FERC issued the highly controversial Order 745 which prescribes how providers of demand response are to be compensated in the organized wholesale markets.

Opponents argue that the FERC’s order prescribes an inefficient pricing rule that overcompensates demand response, thereby reducing market efficiency and unfairly burdening small electricity consumers.

Proponents of demand response programs say that its benefits include improved system reliability, cost avoidance, greater market efficiency, improved risk management, reduced negative environmental impacts, improved customer service, and market power mitigation.

Wellinghoff has influenced opinions on both sides of the demand response debate…except in Texas, which has its own electric grid.

#54 John W. Somerhalder II

Chairman, President & CEO of AGL Resources

Atlanta, Georgia

John W. Somerhalder II got ‘GAS’ in 2011.  Seriously.

Somerhalder spent almost 30 years with El Paso Corporation before being named as president and chief executive officer of the AGL Resources in 2006.  AGL is the parent of its namesake Atlanta Gas Light and distributed natural gas to 2.2 million customers in six states.

Somerhalder pulled-off the “most transformational event in [AGL’s] history” by acquiring Illinois-based Nicor Inc. in December 2011.  The deal doubled the size of AGL and created the nation’s largest natural gas-only distribution company, with 4.5 million utility customers in seven states.

Although a warmer winter and ample natural gas supplies at low prices all factored into a drop in AGL’s bottom line, Somerhalder remains top of the line when it comes to serving his industry and his community.

Somerhalder served as chairman of the American Gas Association in 2011 and also served on the boards of the Gas Technology Institute, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.  As leader of AGL’s V-Force (Volunteer Force), he was also involved with Habitat for Humanity, United Way and the Beltline Partnership which supports development of the Atlanta BeltLine along 22 miles of historic railroad around the city.

On Dec. 16, AGL Resources assumed Nicor’s ticker symbol ‘GAS’ in trading on the New York Stock Exchange.  It remains to be seen though if Natural Gas prices will rise in the coming year…Somerhalder and ‘GAS’ are depending on it in order to remain influential in 2012. 

#55 Jeremy Rifkin

Owner of The Foundation on Economic Trends

Washington, D.C.

Along with #Energy100 Influencer Amory Lovins, Jeremy Rifkin was nominated on twitter for “ influence in the areas of #cleanenergy #cleaneconomy.”

Rifkin is president of The Foundation on Economic Trends, bestselling author and frequent speaker on the impact of scientific and technological changes on the economy, the workforce, society, and the environment.

Rifkin’s latest book “The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power Is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World” explains how internet technology and renewable energy are merging to change the way we live and work.  He envisions an ’Energy Internet’ with thousands of small producers.

As a European Union advisor for the past decade, Rifkin also believes the US and EU can achieve energy independence now.  His plan based on five pillars: 1) Renewable energy targets 2) Green buildings 3) Energy storage 4) “Energy Internet” and 5) Plug-in electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Rifkin believes that the ‘Democratization Of Energy‘ will change everything.  Rifkin’s influential Third Industrial Revolution may be where we need to go from here.


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