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Environment / Sustainability

Gov. Bill Ritter to head energy policy center

January 5, 2011

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter will join Colorado State University starting this spring to head a new national policy center focused on building the new energy economy, University President Tony Frank announced today.

Gov. Bill Ritter will lead the new policy center in helping to build essential partnerships around research-based clean energy solutions.

When his term as governor ends this month, Ritter will become the director of the Center for the New Energy Economy and Senior Scholar within CSU’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability – called SoGES. His official start date at CSU will be Feb. 1. 

Center funded by private support

The Center for the New Energy Economy, including salaries, will be completely funded by private support, initially from the San Francisco-based Energy Foundation and the Fort Collins-based Bohemian Foundation

CSU is also in conversations with a number of other organizations interested in funding the center for the long-term, Frank said. 

Building partnerships around clean energy solutions

“Land grant universities such as CSU have always been strongly linked to the economic vitality of their states,” Frank said. “Clean and renewable energy is a new economic frontier, and it’s important for Colorado and our country that we continue to position ourselves as leaders in this emerging economy.

"This policy center - under Gov. Ritter’s leadership - will help build essential partnerships around research-based clean energy solutions, workforce development and advancement of technologies that will fuel long-term, sustainable economic growth.” 

Center supports jobs/healthy economy for Colorado

Featured on Denver News 4

Bill Ritter will join Colorado State this spring as head of Center for the New Energy Economy [more in Today].

Frank emphasized that the creation of this center demonstrates CSU’s commitment to jobs and a healthy economy for Colorado. As part of Ritter’s new role, he’ll work closely with CSU’s rural economic development activities--spearheaded by Director of Economic Development and former Larimer County Commissioner Kathay Rennels--to advance statewide economic initiatives related to clean and renewable energy. 

Scott Moore, chairman of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, hailed the announcement as a great move for Colorado. "Gov. Ritter's proven leadership in supporting passage of the Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act demonstrates how constructive public policies can advance the benefits of our abundant natural gas resources in providing energy we need, creating high paying jobs and protecting our environment,” Moore said. 

“We look forward to working with him in his new role to promote energy policies that provide innovative and pragmatic direction for Colorado and our nation."

Policy Center work dovetails with land-grant service mission

The new center and Ritter’s position are a natural outgrowth of CSU’s longstanding leadership in environmental research and clean-energy technologies, along with its land-grant service mission to benefit Colorado, Frank said.

“CSU is at the forefront of driving alternative energy solutions to the marketplace, and no one has been a more active and articulate advocate for the creation of a new energy economy than Gov. Bill Ritter,” Frank said. “This new center is a natural partnership that will capitalize on his extraordinary experience and knowledge in this arena while building on CSU’s well-known innovative, entrepreneurial approach to clean energy research and development.”

University-sponsored clean energy solutions

Colorado State has been a world research leader in engineering clean and alternative energy solutions for decades. Today, more than 200 faculty from all eight CSU colleges are involved in sustainability science and clean-energy research. Colorado State faculty oversee the largest and most prominent independent engines research laboratory in North America, which helps to develop:

  • Distributed power grid systems
  • Clean-burning industrial engines
  • Two-stroke engines to reduce pollution from taxis in the Philippines
  • Cleaner burning cookstoves in India, Nepal and Nicaragua

Abound Solar, a manufacturer of low-cost, thin-film photovoltaic solar panels and one of Colorado State University's most successful spinoff companies, has helped create hundreds of new jobs in Colorado since its founding in 2007.

Center to operate within SoGES

In 2008, CSU established The School of Global Environmental Sustainability as an umbrella organization to develop and promote new strategies for global sustainability that address environmental challenges and inform solutions to global environmental problems, with an emphasis on areas such as food security, energy and the environment. The Center for the New Energy Economy will operate within SoGES and will serve as a national leader in facilitating science-based policy, research and education to support the growth of the new energy economy in Colorado, the nation and the world.

“Gov. Ritter’s expertise in energy economies, coupled with SoGES head Diana Wall’s leadership in ecosystem science and sustainability, create a powerful partnership for innovative solutions to society's environmental problems," Frank said.

Collaborations: Clean Energy Supercluster and Energy and the Environment

Ritter will also partner with the University’s Clean Energy Supercluster, led by renowned clean-energy researcher Professor Bryan Willson. The Supercluster works to facilitate commercialization of clean-energy technologies developed at CSU. Ritter will also collaborate with Ron Sega, who holds a joint appointment at CSU and The Ohio State University as vice president and enterprise executive for Energy and the Environment, exploring possibilities and partnerships for energy and environment-related research.

In addition to developing the center as a credible source of unbiased, science-based information, data and research, Ritter will also convene national and statewide discussions among policymakers, scientists, business, environmental organizations and others; facilitate collaboration among faculty members around critical research needs; represent the university in state, national and international discussions related to energy policy; and interact with students as a teacher and mentor.

Deep commitment to encouraging sustainable development

Ritter, who was elected Colorado’s 41st governor in 2006, earned his bachelor’s degree at Colorado State and his juris doctorate at the University of Colorado.

Elected in 2006 and honored as the “Greenest Governor in America,” Bill Ritter Jr. has established Colorado as a national and international clean-energy leader. The state’s New Energy Economy is creating thousands of jobs, spurring new and innovative technologies, and strengthening the state’s natural environment.

By maximizing Colorado’s abundant supplies of wind, sun and natural gas, Gov. Ritter has crafted a responsible, balanced and comprehensive energy strategy. He is diversifying Colorado’s energy portfolio, creating new economic and investment opportunities, and protecting the state’s air, land, water and wildlife.

Colorado: A leader in renewable sources for energy

Under Gov. Ritter’s leadership, Colorado now has the second-highest renewable electricity standard – 30 percent of Colorado’s electricity will come from renewable sources by 2020 – the first statewide law to convert old and inefficient power plants from coal to cleaner-burning natural gas, and the state’s first Climate Action Plan with aggressive goals to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

A recognized leader who has addressed Congress and international audiences about Colorado’s New Energy Economy, Gov. Ritter has helped quadruple the amount of wind power on Colorado’s electric grid and elevated the state’s solar photovoltaic capacity to third-highest in the country.

Ritter was in Fort Collins Wednesday to give the keynote address at Smart Grid LIVE, an event that marked the beginning of the U.S. Department of Energy's Renewable and Distributed Systems Integration demonstration occurring in Fort Collins as part of FortZED, the Fort Collins zero-energy district. Read more about the day’s events.

With the fourth-highest concentration of clean-energy workers and the best energy research-and-development corridor in the nation, including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Colorado is supporting hundreds of existing clean-energy companies while attracting international businesses like Denmark-based Vestas Wind Systems, Germany-based SMA Solar Technologies and Japan-based American Zephyr Corp.

Gov. Ritter is leading the way toward a more diverse, secure, affordable and sustainable future by strengthening Colorado’s economy and establishing an energy and climate strategy for the rest of the country and the world to follow.

Ritter was the recipient of the 2010 Maury Albertson Medal in Sustainable Development for having championed a new found passion for sustainability in Colorado. He was awarded the medal at Colorado State in August of 2010.

Contact: Brad Bohlander
Phone: (970) 491-1545