Ritter: Colorado can point way on energy
DENVER, Colorado ” As Western states weigh in on energy heading into the November election, Colorado’s unique combination of resources makes it a good showcase for what a national policy can look like “going forward,” Gov. Bill Ritter said.
Ritter and other Western governors are preparing a national energy plan that they hope the next president will consider. Members of the Western Governors Association said in a meeting last week that the federal government has failed to take the lead on the issue.
Ritter said the governors committed staff time to help develop a national policy over the next few months.
“We’re talking about a bipartisan group, Republicans and Democrats alike, who believe we can get to some consensus on what we in the West would recommend the next administration should do going forward,” Ritter said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press.
Escalating prices and climate change have catapulted energy to among the top issues this election season, Ritter said. Governors in the West see developing diverse, affordable energy sources as among the solutions.
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“One of the things that we believe, that I think all the governors would endorse, is that it’s not up to us to pick winners and losers,” said Ritter, referring to types of energy. “Research and development should ultimately drive the conversation.”
Coal, abundant in parts of the region, will continue to play a role, Ritter said. There will be an emphasis on technology to cut pollution from coal-fired power plants because of the greenhouse gases they emit.
“We believe that nuclear (power) may have some role to play as part of our energy future,” Ritter said. “We believe that we should avail ourselves of every opportunity to produce renewable energy.”
While a big proponent of renewable energy, Ritter said he recognizes that wind and solar aren’t necessarily “24/7” power sources and that other approaches are needed, including conservation and improving energy efficiency.
Ritter said he believes the West, and particularly Colorado, has a chance to help shape the country’s energy future. The region, with its big numbers of unaffiliated voters and changing populations, is viewed as a battleground for the presidential candidates.
Denver will host the Democratic National Convention Aug. 25-28.
“The convention is an opportunity to showcase Colorado, to talk about the core values we have in the West,” Ritter said, “and really, put in context the need to extract these resources, produce renewable energy and do the research and development for what the 21st century energy picture should look like and to protect other resources at the same time.”
Colorado is in a unique position to do that, Ritter said.
“There is no place like Colorado that has the combination of traditional resources ” oil and gas, coal and other extractive minerals ” and renewable energy resources and a research and development community that’s next to none,” Ritter said.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden is one of the federal research centers in the state. The Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory has formed a partnership among NREL, the Colorado School of Mines, the University of Colorado at Boulder and Colorado State University.
Ritter is traveling to Spain this week to talk to renewable energy companies about investing in Colorado. Some of the foreign renewable companies already doing business and research in Colorado are Denmark-based Vestas Blades, German conglomerate Siemens Energy, and Abengoa Solar and Iberdrola Renewables, both from Spain.