Fifth-annual Vail Global Energy Forum examines the rise of North America and the future of energy |

Fifth-annual Vail Global Energy Forum examines the rise of North America and the future of energy

Krista Driscoll
Special to the Daily

If you go …

What: Vail Global Energy Forum: “The Rise of North America: The Future of Energy.”

When: Friday, Jan. 29, through Sunday, Jan. 31.

Where: Headquarters at Vilar Performing Arts Center, 68 Avondale Lane, Beaver Creek.

Cost: Signature Weekend Package is $750, Saturday Single Day Pass is $400, and Sunday Single Day Pass is $400.

More information: View the full agenda and purchase tickets at

Confirmed speakers

• Sally Benson, director, Precourt Institute for Energy, and director, Global Climate & Energy Project, Stanford University

• David Carroll, president and CEO, Gas Technology Institute

• Ahmad Chatila, president and CEO, SunEdison

• Gitane De Silva, senior representative to the U.S., government of Alberta, Canada

• Michael Dimock, president, Pew Research Center

• Michael Farina, market development director, GE Global Gas to Power

• Julio Friedmann, deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Fossil Energy, U.S. Department of Energy

• Dian Grueneich, senior research scholar, Precourt Energy Efficiency Center, Stanford University

• Gen. (Ret.) Michael Hayden, U.S. Air Force, former director of the National Security Agency and former director of the Central Intelligence Agency

• Stefan Heck, consulting professor, Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford University

• Marianne Kah, chief economist, ConocoPhillips

• Richard Kauffman, chairman of energy and finance, State of New York

• Fred Krupp, president, Environmental Defense Fund

• Arun Majumdar, professor of mechanical engineering and senior fellow, Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford University

• Michael McQuade, chief technical officer, United Technologies

• Lourdes Melgar, Ph.D., Deputy Secretary of Energy for Hydrocarbons, Ministry of Energy, Mexico

• Tom Petrie, chairman, Petrie Partners

• James Sweeney, director, Precourt Energy Efficiency Center, Stanford University

• Peter Trelenberg, manager of environmental policy and planning, ExxonMobil Corp.

• Mark Zoback, professor of geophysics and senior fellow, Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford University

Global energy constitutes one of the most relevant, yet largely misunderstood, topics facing our planet. The fifth annual Vail Global Energy Forum, taking place today through Sunday in Beaver Creek, promises to yet again provide a platform for bipartisan discussion of energy knowledge and policy.

Forum flow

The event draws industry leaders and academics from all over North America and is presented in partnership with Stanford University’s Precourt Institute for Energy. The conversation begins today with opening remarks from Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, who, along with Dan W. Reicher, executive director of the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford, will talk about the current state of energy.

This opening presentation, which in the past has featured Colorado dignitaries such as U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet and Gov. John Hickenlooper, helps to lay the groundwork for the forum. The keynote address that follows, this year given by Gen. (Ret.) Michael Hayden, U.S. Air Force, former director of both the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency, will add a few bricks to that foundation.

“He’ll speak on responding to cyber security threats to the energy sector,” said Carl Colby, executive director of the Forum. “He’s a formidable speaker. That’s the tone we like to set. Last year, it was Condoleezza Rice; before that, it was (former U.S. Secretary of State) George Shultz. It’s someone in the national security field. In the future, we might have a foreign minister of Canada or Mexico.”

The forum continues Saturday morning with Michael Dimock, president of the Pew Research Center, presenting polling data about the public’s understanding of science, energy and the environment.

“What do people think about energy in the United States and North America?” Colby asked. “Where does climate change rank? In Brazil and Norway, and maybe like Ecuador, climate change might be first, second or third, in terms of interest. In China and the U.S., it’s seventh, eighth or ninth — at the bottom.”

Colby said the idea is to first expose the crowd to something provocative — Hayden’s talk about the vulnerabilities of cyber security in the energy industry — and then present the Pew research before starting the overarching dialogue about creating improvements in energy efficiency, sustainability, clean-energy technologies, energy security and supply.

Custom experience

All of the topics to be addressed fall within this year’s Vail Global Energy Forum theme — “The Rise of North America: The Future of Energy” — but Larry Holdren, director of marketing and sponsorship for the forum, said the majority of the panel discussions and lectures don’t necessarily build upon one another. Instead, the forum is structured to allow time for networking and collaboration.

“Historically, and this year is no exception, we’ve covered a wide range of topics, from oil and gas development to transportation … to the power sector,” he said. “It’s this broad look at energy and energy-related issues.”

“You can chat with your friends and skip a half an hour of something,” Colby said. “We try to make it like an embarrassment of riches — Door No. 1, Door No. 2, Door No. 3: What do I want to see?”

Highlights include Peter Trelenberg, manager of environmental policy and planning for ExxonMobil Corp., talking about the global energy outlook. Colby said Trelenberg would likely emphasize Exxon’s previously published expectations that renewable sources, such as wind, solar and biofuels, would be among the fastest-growing major energy sources through 2040.

“Exxon thinks it’ll be a natural gas business and not an oil business by 2040,” Colby said. “It’s fascinating to hear this 20-minute conversation, usually followed by some Q-and-A on what ExxonMobil’s thinking.”

Also on the agenda is a panel discussion,The Revolution in Transportation: Electric Vehicles, Driverless Cars & Ridesharing, moderated by Stefan Heck, consulting professor at the Precourt Institute for Energy.

Colby said the Vail Global Energy Forum’s partnership with Stanford allows the event to tap into Stanford’s network of professors and their colleagues to recruit speakers and panelists like Heck.

“Stanford is certainly one of the leaders in energy research, so in some ways, this event brings a lot of that academic prowess to the valley because there’s a lot of really smart Stanford folks who are moderating panels and giving presentations,” Holdren said.

The academic tie also has created opportunities for the next generation to get involved with the global energy conversation. This year alone, with support from the Vail Global Energy Forum’s sponsors, 85 students from top North American colleges and universities will travel to Beaver Creek for the event.

“A part of the vision is education,” Holdren said. “How do you take the really great content that’s being created at Stanford and MIT and package it in a way that you can export it to a broader audience? Students are really a part of that.”

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