Governor Bob Riley and Commissioner Ron Sparks of the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries have announced they have jointly formed a committee charged with developing a comprehensive alternative energy policy for the state.

The Alabama Alternative Energy Committee is made up of energy experts and leaders from the state’s universities, forestry and agriculture sectors, manufacturers, energy providers, and state and local government officials.

"This bipartisan alliance will work to find common ground on proposals that promote homegrown sources of energy," Governor Riley said. "We are eager to advance the development of renewable energy resources that help secure our energy future and also provide an opportunity for rural economic development in Alabama."

"Alabama is one of the few states in the U.S. without a formal energy policy," said Commissioner Sparks. "This committee will ensure we are heading in the right direction. Not only does producing fuel right here in Alabama help our farmers by creating a demand for their products, it will also allow us to become less dependent on foreign oil."

In Plan 2010, which he unveiled last fall, Governor Riley said he wanted to encourage the commercial development and private use of alternative fuels in Alabama.

Commissioner Sparks created the Center for Alternative Fuels within the state agriculture department, which is focused on promoting the development and usage of alternative fuels.

The committee will make recommendations that can be implemented by executive order from the governor and new laws passed by the legislature.

The committee currently has about 65 members, but it could grow if others express an interest in joining, Governor Riley said.