Hickenlooper, Bennet tout Colorado's energy leadership

ANDREW WINEKE Updated: April 10, 2012 at 12:00 am • Published: April 10, 2012

If the United States is to pursue an “all of the above” energy policy, Colorado will be the model for the nation, said Gov. John Hickenlooper, speaking Tuesday at the Global New Energy Summit at The Broadmoor.

Colorado is a leader in wind and solar energy both in manufacturing and in production potential, Hickenlooper said, and has some of the largest natural gas reserves in the country, along with oil and coal resources.

“It allows us to be that test tube case where all those energies and technologies can be implemented,” Hickenlooper said. “We’re open to anything.”

He said the nation’s first priority should be developing natural gas resources, where recent advances in drilling technology have led to a huge boost in production, but that it was smart to invest in renewable energy at the same time.

“We don’t think our house is going to burn down, but we spend a tenth of a percent or two of our home’s value for fire insurance,” Hickenlooper said. “Long term, if we’re convinced about climate change, we have to continue looking at solar and wind.”

However, he said, the country should be open to all energy sources, touting Colorado Springs’ Neumann Systems Group and its clean coal technology as an example.

“I wouldn’t rule out coal — there’s a company here in Colorado Springs, Neumann Systems, that has a scrubbing system to pull the carbon dioxide off of coal,” Hickenlooper said. “As long as it’s data-based and science-driven, I think we should be open to all of those.”

Sen. Michael Bennet, speaking on a panel with former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and former Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah, also talked up Colorado’s potential as an energy leader, but bemoaned the inability of politicians to work together to advance national energy goals.

Bennet said government will never be the driving force behind energy trends and innovation, but that it could play an important role in boosting new technologies. Bennet said partisan bickering in Washington, D.C., is harming those efforts.

“I don’t think we’ll see a comprehensive energy policy soon,” he said.

He cited the inability to pass an extension of the wind energy production tax credit as an example of political dysfunction that is hurting Colorado businesses.

“Washington has become the land of flickering lights,” he said. “We create a two-month extension over here, a four-month extension over there. Part of what we need to provide is predictability over a period of time.”

The Global New Energy Summit brings together regional and national leaders from different energy fields to discuss issues ranging from natural gas prices to transmission challenges. It continues through Wednesday.

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