Saturday, December 27, 2008

Time to Shine: Colorado and Renewable Energy

Yesterday, Obamathon Man took a day trip to Denver's equivalent of Santa Monica: Boulder. True, the median age of Boulder is about 10 years lower and the median temperature is about 50 degrees lower. The college vibe is felt all across town, unlike Santa Monica where it stops 3 blocks from SMC (though I dare say the radio station at SMC is a bit more influential, if less countercultural, than CU Boulder's). But just like Santa Monica, there's a pedestrian mall lined with chic sake bars and hobos, and every newsstand includes a free publication dedicated to "wellness".

But what struck me is not Boulder itself but the solar plant I spotted along the way. I was aware that Colorado was actively getting involved in renewable energy, but its nice to see it first hand.

Colorado has a long history with renewable energy. In 1974, the Solar Energy Research Institute was founded. The Institute flourished under the Carter administration, and it was during this time that my relative relocated to Denver to work there. During the Reagan years, it was determined that "government is the problem", which meant that all government-conducted solar research was part of the problem too. My relative eventually left for a university job and later ended up working for private research firms, with mixed results. The SERI ultimately survived the wrath of Reagan, though its budget was cut by 90%. In the 90s, it was rebranded as the National Renewable Energies Laboratory, or NREL, and continues to operate to this day.

In 2006, Colorado's Governor Bill Ritter announced that Colorado was to be an energy pioneer, becoming "bolder [Boulder?] than any other state when it comes to renewable energy". This is certainly great news and I commend the efforts of the great state of Colorado, though as a west coast loyalist I have to add that if they want to become the greenest state they've got some competition.

With Obama in office, the future is green for the whole country. But it's great to see that here in the purple state of Colorado, change isn't waiting for January 20.

1 comment:

  1. There are wind turbines along that road too where the Rocky Flats Nuclear facility used to be. Now that's progress!