By Houston Business Journal

Reliant Energy Inc. President Jason Few believes the future of Americaâ¿¿s energy independence will rely heavily on efforts to construct nuclear power plants and renewable energy solutions in combination with natural gas.

Few shared Reliant Energyâ¿¿s 20-year outlook at an energy forum speech in Dallas on Friday. Like most of the energy executives on the panel, he cited Americaâ¿¿s need to unfetter itself from its reliance on foreign oil as one of the industryâ¿¿s foremost concerns.

With Houston-based Reliant's parent company NRG Energy Inc. (NYSE: NRG) already in the process of marketing car charging stations for electric vehicle users in several Texas cities, Few sees a future where more Americans are willing to invest in electric cars that have an infrastructure to support daily operations.

⿿We think in 10 to 20 years, you will have a meaningful penetration,⿝ he said when discussing how many consumers in the future will be driving cars that require charging stations.

Reliant's parent company, which has an ongoing initiative to build a nuclear power plant, has 6,500 new jobs tied to the build out of just one plant, Few said.

Reliant also is focusing on technologies tied to its smart grid, which allows it to share more details with consumers about energy usage and costs.

About 175,000 Reliant customers are currently enrolled in Reliant's e-Sense program, which gives consumers timely information about how much energy they use and the costs tied to their usage amount.

In 2011, Few said the company will spend more dollars to develop smart meter solutions, while also continuing to invest in its charging station infrastructure.

â¿¿We clearly see one of the things that is important is how we continue to deal with renewables in Texas, and there are opportunities to include solar power in our mix," Few said.

Economic development in the energy sector will come in the form of jobs and dollars injected into the economy, Few said, as competitors in electric retail race to offer consumers technology products that can control their usage and spending.

Copyright 2011 American City Business Journals

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