Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell will host a three-day energy conference in Richmond next month that he said will cover every aspect of doing energy business in the state, which he has promoted as becoming "the energy capital of the East coast."

Oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the Oct. 12-14 conference. Other speakers scheduled to appear include McDonnell; Maureen Matsen, deputy secretary of natural resources and McDonnell's senior adviser on energy; Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Douglas Domenech; and Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade James Cheng.

The agenda includes an examination of how the energy sector is organized and operates in Virginia, the latest information on state and federal regulatory activity, cutting edge alternative energy projects, and energy research and development currently under way at the state's universities. Scheduled panel discussions will cover the future of Virginia's energy resources, a review of conservation and efficiency opportunities, and consideration of transportation issues, including the potential for electric vehicles and natural gas fleets.

Conference sponsors include Virginia Commonwealth University, Dominion, Appalachian Power Co., AGL Resources, Consol Energy/CNX, Pepco Energy Services and Range Resources.

McDonnell, a Republican, initiated his call to make Virginia "the energy capital of the East Coast" during his 2009 campaign to become the state's governor. Before taking office he made it clear that he would push for exploration and development of oil and natural gas resources off the Atlantic Coast, urging Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar not to delay further the Virginia offshore lease sale scheduled for next year (Lease Sale 220) (see Daily GPI, Dec. 30, 2009).

Earlier this year McDonnell signed legislation allocating future offshore royalties and revenues to transportation and the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium, which researches and develops renewable energy solutions, which he said were "key pieces of legislation...necessary to help Virginia become the energy capital of the East Coast" (see Daily GPI, March 12).

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