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FARMINGTON —State Sen. Steve Neville, R-Farmington, has been elected national chairman of The Energy Council, a non-partisan legislative organization that draws legislators from 13 states and Canada for meetings, tours and educational programs.

The Energy Council was formed in 1975 by legislators from five energy-producing states — New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana — who wanted to meet and discuss energy policy.

The small group has now grown to include 13 states, such as West Virginia, Mississippi, Colorado, Kansas, North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Alaska. It also includes policy makers from the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada.

Neville previously served as council's vice chairman.

Early interest in joining

When Neville was first elected to the state Legislature more than a dozen years ago, he expressed interest in joining The Energy Council. His interest led the Legislature to nominate him as a member. He later moved onto the executive council for The Energy Council, which put him on the path to becoming national chairman.

He said The Energy Council will be looking to add more states as members in the upcoming years.

He said it will be approaching states like Kentucky and Pennsylvania that have recently become major producers of oil. In addition, Neville said The Energy Council is interested in adding member states like Iowa that have a lot of wind production.

"Energy policy's a national thing," Neville said.

Group doesn't draft laws

The Energy Council met last week in Anchorage, Alaska. As national chairman, one of Neville's primary duties will be to develop agendas for the upcoming meetings. He said the agendas topics are chosen based on the location of the meeting. The next meeting will be in December in West Virginia.

Neville said the council is different than many other national policy councils because it does not draft legislation or drive any agenda. He said The Energy Council primarily exists to educate legislators about various energy-related topics ranging from renewable energy to fossil fuels.

More: Enchant Energy CEO says San Juan Generating Station carbon capture may cost $1.23 billion

Carbon capture policies an issue

He said City of Farmington's proposal to install carbon capture technology on the San Juan Generating Station could be one of the things The Energy Council would be interested in.

"There's other coal-fired power plants in the country that are in the same plight," he said.

In fact, Neville toured the Boundary Dam Power Plant in Saskatchewan with The Energy Council to learn about carbon capture technology.

He said The Energy Council is planning to tour a wind farm next year to educate policy makers on wind electricity.

More: Farmington may acquire, transfer ownership of power plant

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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