Ritter touts energy economy highlights for summit

By Jason Kosena
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

The same message came from the same messenger, but it was delivered in a new venue.

During a luncheon speech Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Bill Ritter touted the importance of his vision for a “new energy economy” at the Rocky Mountain New Energy Markets Summit, sponsored by Holme Roberts & Owen law firm, Altira and Morgan Stanley.

During prepared remarks to the conference’s 300 attendees at the downtown Hyatt, Ritter highlighted many of the new Colorado jobs recently created in or around the new energy sector and expressed his belief that the state is in a good position to compete worldwide for even more.

“As governor, I have been to five events in the last three weeks where we were cutting ribbons to facilities that will bring in new jobs,” Ritter said. “Some of those jobs have to do with energy, and some have to do with energy technology ... but between them all, we have added 1,600 new jobs in the renewable energy sector.”

Some of those jobs will come to the Abound Solar facility in Longmont and the Vestas Wind manufacturing plant in Brighton, Ritter said.

Never shy to promote his concept of the new energy economy that he has helped to create, Ritter told attendees that — despite the slogan — his vision has not just been about clean energy technology, adding that his administration has worked for an approach that marries traditional energy extraction with renewable energy in a way that works best for Colorado and its economy.

“When we say a new energy economy, we were talking about a combination of extracted fuels and an aggressive move to exploit the state’s renewable energy potential,” Ritter said. “It’s those two potentials that we are talking about. But it’s also about energy efficiency and about the kinds of things that we can do in terms of energy conservation. That is the way we are going to move forward.”

Although the state has benefited from the work done by his administration in the last three years and from a number of policies the Legislature has passed to offer incentives to clean energy companies to relocate here, much credit for the progress goes to the state’s population and innovation, Ritter said.

“In Colorado we created the beginning of this research ecosystem by having some of the best scientists in the area,” he said. “Then we have some people who are able to go out and find the venture capital to fund that research. And, the other thing we have done is build legislative policy around it all. Three legislative sessions into this and we have passed a host of bills to show our intent to have a renewable energy economy in this state.”

Finally, in a final nod to President Barack Obama and the recently passed stimulus package, Ritter expressed his hope that some of the funding from the $900 billion package will continue to help Colorado and his new energy economy vision.

“The stimulus bill fits in really nice with what we have done,” Ritter said. “I think nationally we are going to look at the stimulus package on the whole as the moment our country turned the corner. I think the other countries of the world have been waiting for us to see what we do in terms of its national energy policy.”

After Ritter said those words, a businessman in a suit could be heard from a couple of tables away.

“I sure hope so,” he said. “I can’t wait.”

Jason@coloradostatesman.com