The U.S. must employ all sources to meet its growing energy needs, Georgia Power Co.‘s president and chief executive said in a speech that called for Congress to cast aside partisanship and chart a coherent course for the powering the nation’s future.

Energy policy has for too long been held hostage by politics, but now the nation is at an energy “crossroads” that will affect its future competitiveness, Paul Bowers said in a keynote address at the Sandy Springs/Perimeter Chamber of Commerce‘s second annual Global Gateway event Sept. 22.

“When you have good energy policy, you really forge forward the opportunities for jobs, you forge forward the opportunities for growth,” Mr. Bowers said.

The country’s energy portfolio can’t rely too heavily on any one source, but instead should include “all the arrows in the quiver” – nuclear, coal, natural gas, and renewables like solar and wind, Mr. Bowers said.

“You know, we’re the Saudi Arabia of coal in the world,” he said of the U.S., noting that more research is needed on how to burn the fuel more cleanly and capture the carbon dioxide it emits.

Southern Co., Georgia Power’s Atlanta-based parent, is working on a coal-powered plant in Mississippi that will capture 65 percent of carbon dioxide and inject it into a pipeline for enhanced oil recovery. China has shown interest in the technology, Mr. Bowers said.

Nuclear is key to meeting demand for affordable, environmentally sound energy, Mr. Bowers said. Southern Co. is at the center of a coalition constructing the first two new nuclear reactors in the country in 30 years at Plant Vogtle, just south of Augusta.

Georgia Power owns a 46 percent stake in the project has spent $3.5 billion on it to date. The $14 billion project last year received $8.3 billion in loan guarantees from the federal government.

The meltdown and release of radioactive material from Japan‘s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant after the country’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami has dampened public opinion toward nuclear power in parts of the world.

While the event caused officials to think again about safety, Mr. Bowers said the Vogtle reactors will use “one of the safest designs in the world” as determined by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The commission on Sept. 27 held a hearing to determine whether to issue the operating license that would put construction formally into motion.

Renewables, namely solar and wind, must be “part of the puzzle,” though both sources are can be expensive and “interruptible,” Mr. Bowers said.

He remembered visiting a solar farm on media mogul Ted Turner‘s land in New Mexico. When a cloud passed over the site, its capacity went from 30 megawatts to one.

Mr. Bowers, the keynote speaker, was followed by a panel discussion about other issues pertaining to global competitiveness.

Tamer Cavusgil, executive director at the Center for International Business Education and Research at Georgia State University, unveiled the center’s Export Academy, a 10-month educational program designed to teach managers from small and mid-sized companies how to export.

Ted Woehrle, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Newell Rubbermaid, talked about the company’s efforts to sell its consumer brands like Sharpie and Rubbermaid in emerging markets.

Two legislators also spoke about transportation and education issues.

The Sandy Springs/Perimeter Chamber also gave out international awards.

Craig Lesser, managing partner of Pendleton Consulting Group, received the Galambos Global Gateway award, named after Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos.

Newell Rubbermaid received the global award, while InterContinental Hotels Group received the international award. Phil Bolton, publisher of GlobalAtlanta, took home an award for individual achievement, while Dr. Cavusgil was recognized for his role in promoting global business education.

Sandy Springs is home to three Fortune 500 companies, 125 companies engaged in global business and 12 consulates or honorary consulates.

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As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...