by Jama L. Jarrett
West Virginia is proud to be home to many resourceful minds and inventive people. Add Dean Cordle to that long list and you have a talent who is applying his knowledge of energy and renewable alternatives to projects that allow the state’s residents to enjoy a cleaner environment.
Cordle is the executive vice president for AC&S Inc., a chemical manufacturing company with an office in Nitro. The company started in 1986 as a railcar cleaning facility and soon added chemical manufacturing and laboratory analysis to its services. In 2006, AC&S decided to use some of its idled manufacturing equipment for biodiesel fuel manufacturing.
Being the first producer of biodiesel in the state brought many challenges, but Cordle and the company have overcome many of those obstacles. AC&S can produce up to 3 million gallons of biodiesel a year.
A native of northeast Ohio, Cordle began his career working as a hydrogeologist in Michigan and then for an environmental services company in Ohio. In 2002, Cordle was asked to move to West Virginia. “The president of AC&S wanted me to assume some responsibilities at our chemical plant in Nitro,” said Cordle. “It was the opportunity that brought me here.”
Cordle quickly made himself at home and has found West Virginia to be a great fit for his lifestyle and interests. “The quality of life is much better in West Virginia,” said Cordle. “So is the water and air quality,” he added, a statement you would only expect to hear from an environmental engineer.
Gov. Joe Manchin has taken notice of Cordle’s efforts and has appointed him to the Public Energy Authority (PEA) for the state. “I am honored to have been chosen by the governor for this position and am very excited about helping West Virginia become energy independent,” said Cordle.
The PEA has the authority to represent the state in national energy initiatives, engage in strategic planning initiatives and purchase electric power or natural gas transmission projects. The PEA policy includes all forms of feasible energy technologies such as clean coal, coal liquefaction, natural gas, biomass, hydrogen, hydro, wind and solar power. “We are working toward making West Virginia free of foreign energy imports by 2030,” said Cordle.
Looking to the future, Cordle sees an opening for West Virginia to draw the next generation of talent to work toward energy independence and new-energy alternatives. According to Cordle, approximately 50 percent of chemical plant employees will retire within the next five years, and the remaining 50 percent will retire in the following five years. “I see opportunities for employment in the chemical manufacturing and coal-mining industries,” said Cordle.
When Cordle isn’t tackling the energy crisis, he takes advantage of West Virginia’s climate and natural resources. “I live on the Kanawha River and enjoy being on the water,” said Cordle. He also loves whitewater rafting, fishing, hunting and playing golf. “West Virginia has a mild four-season climate that offers far more days of sunshine than any other place I have lived,” said Cordle. “This difference in climate is dramatic and allows for more time to enjoy the state’s natural outdoor resources.”