PPA Gathers in Hershey, Pa., for Annual Meeting

Empire State Energy Association held their joint convention, trade show and annual meeting in Sept. 24-26. Attendees saw some good networking opportunities, expert lectures, politicians and one noted Pennsylvania football celebrity.

The whole event, held at the historic Hershey Lodge, began with a golf tournament at the lodge’s country club. A total of 87 golfers competed on the crisp fall Wednesday before attending the conferences opening reception on the trade show floor.

The trade show was packed with new and popular products as well as a bevy of service providers for the industry. Most of the vendors said they had some great conversations.

Ben Brockwell discusses the state of the Pennsylvania industry at the PPA annual meeting.
Ben Brockwell discusses the state of the Pennsylvania industry at the PPA annual meeting.

The educational track began Thursday morning and featured several industry heavyweights. After some welcoming remarks from Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley, Oil Price Information Service’s Ben Brockwell gave an update on the State of the oil Industry.

Brockwell offered some fascinating insight into the current landscape of the market, especially the pipeline issues that the U.S. is seeing with the current oil sand boom.

“That line space commodity is now a bartered commodity,” said Brockwell, describing how business are trading space here and there instead of buying room on the crowded pipelines.

He touched briefly on speculation, saying that despite outcry for reforms, is as big as it ever was.

“It would take 30 years to deliver all the fuel in the speculation market,” said Brockwell.

Bob Smerbeck discusses the 2014-2015 winter.
Bob Smerbeck discusses the 2014-2015 winter.

AccuWeather’s Senior Meteorologist, Bob Smerbeck, gave some valuable insight into the upcoming winter. He said that while it won’t be as bad as last winter (a view that is not universally held among meterologists), it could still be a rough winter, especially for delivery drivers in the Northeast. The similar jet stream pattern will keep things slightly below average for both temperature and precipitation in the Northeast. But, he said there was a greater chance for big storms as above average moisture in the South could push its way north.

“We expect a storm track from the Gulf up to the East,” said Smerbeck.

He said the AccuWeather model shows it will be colder than average across the U.S.

“We’ve got cold east of the Rockies,” said Smerbeck. “But it’s not going to be as severe as it was last year.”

Some good news for the industry: the AccuWeather model shows that it could be another slow spring, keeping those boilers running a little longer.

The education day also featured political analyst, Dr. G. Terry Madonna’s comments on Pennsylvania’s political climate as well as Nate R. Sannes, of Federated

Mutual Insurance Co., discussing healthcare programs and risk management.

That night, Rep. Glenn Thompson spoke at the President’s Reception. Attendees then gathered for a banquet keynote address from NFL star, ESPN Analyst Merril Hoge. Hoge shared his inspiring story of tenacity in the face of adversity. His “Find a Way” philosophy has helped him attain his career goals, as well as face the challenge of surviving cancer.

The week concluded with a panel discussion and industry update on federal- and state issues, featuring Robert S. Bassman (managing partner at Bassman, Mitchell & Alfano, Chtd.), Brett Doyle (legislative assistant, U.S. Senator Pat Toomey), Steven Kelly (press secretary, U.S. Senator Pat Toomey), John V. Kulik (PPA executive vice president), and Rob Underwood (PMAA director of congressional regulations).

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