Gas prices, nuclear power among hot topics at Springs conference

April 15, 2011

With soaring gas prices and fresh concerns over nuclear power and natural gas drilling, the Global New Energy Summit being held next week at The Broadmoor comes at an opportune time.

Although “new energy” is right there in the name, what sets the conference apart is that it deals with all forms of energy — fossil fuels, nuclear, and renewables, said David Blivin, the summit’s founder and director.

“The majority of conferences focus on ‘clean tech’ only,” Blivin said. “What we’re trying to do is really create a national and international perspective across the spectrum. We include all sources of energy, including gas and oil and nuclear. You end up with a very broad and, I think, more comprehensive view of what’s going on across all these energy fields.”

It’s an approach that is increasingly reflected by deals and direction in the real world, where, for instance, natural gas and wind energy producers are increasingly working together on policy issues, Blivin said. Many of the sessions at The Broadmoor on Sunday through Tuesday focus on nuts-and-bolts issues such as siting concerns, transmission capacity and financing.

This is the first time the 3-year-old conference has been held in Colorado and the state is heavily represented in the speakers’ list, with former Gov. Bill Ritter, Sen. Mark Udall and Dan Arvizu, director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, among the keynote speakers; local energy leaders such as Neumann Systems CEO David Neumann, former Manitou Springs mayor and energy attorney Eric Drummond, Fountain Utilities’ Larry Patterson and Russell Hume from the Air Force Academy are also speakers.

Blivin, who also runs a venture capital firm in Santa Fe, N.M.,  said Colorado is a leading player in both traditional energy production such as natural gas and renewables such as wind and solar.

“The whole state has embraced the event that plays to the strengths of the region and to the strengths of Colorado,” he said.

So far, natural gas prices and production, nuclear energy’s promises and pitfalls and a renewed interest in energy independence and renewables are the hot topics among attendees, Blivin said.

Along with its educational side, the summit hopes to have a regional economic development impact, he said. By bringing regional energy leaders together with national and international speakers and attendees, Blivin said, the conference aims to increase awareness of the region’s resources and potential.

“There’s sort of the halo effect of getting these leaders from around the country and internationally into the region, having this debate, but also exposing them to a lot of the innovation that’s taking place in the region,” he said. “We’re starting to catch the attention of folks that are out of the region.”

Call the writer at 636-0275

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