Global New Energy Summit takes root in the Springs

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When Dave Blivin wanted to move the Global New Energy Summit from Santa Fe, N.M., where it had been for two years, Denver was his first choice.

But a stop in Colorado Springs on his way to the state capital changed his mind.

The two-day seminar, scheduled for April 17-19 at The Broadmoor, brings together business leaders, venture capitalists, scientists and government officials to discuss recent events in the global energy market as well as technology that could bring big changes to the field.

“We thought, at first, Denver was the natural choice,” Blivin said. “But there, we’d be just another conference among many. Here, we’ve gotten personal attention from the mayor, from the 6035 committee, and even the state has responded better because we chose to have this out of the Denver area.”

The city will host the summit for at least the next two years.

Colorado Springs doesn’t have a reputation for attracting clean-energy or clean technology companies, said Eric Cefus, director of the Catamount Institute, a Springs-based nonprofit that promotes ecological stewardship.

“But this, hopefully, will be the first step to changing that,” he said. “There are many companies coming to the conference and this is our chance to show that we are committed and engaged to clean energy.”

Because Colorado Springs Utilities is municipally owned, investing in new technologies and clean energy is difficult, Cefus said.

“We just don’t have the reputation that we need to have,” he said. “We haven’t been successful in attracting those kinds of companies in the past.”

Mike Kazmierski, president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp., also sees the summit as an opportunity to showcase the city’s desire for clean energy companies.

“It gives us a chance to show what we’re doing here, to show we have both jobs and investment in clean tech,” he said. “Part of the concern from the clean tech industry has always been that a community has to show its commitment to the industry. We don’t have a reputation for that. But we’re changing it — through initiatives at Fort Carson and at the Catamount Institute.”

The state of Colorado already has a reputation for being a good state for clean technology investment, Kazmierski said. But now, he said, it’s time for Colorado Springs to also be part of that reputation.

Blivin said the summit’s focus will be comprehensive.

“This isn’t about just renewables, or clean tech,” he said. “It’s about new technology that makes the undesirable old energy more desirable. It covers everything from coal to nuclear power to biofuels.”

And that broad outlook is why the city became interested in hosting the event, said Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera. Colorado Springs Utilities, has been working with Neumann Systems to develop cleaner ways to burn coal.

Rivera said having the summit here shows Colorado Springs was making a name for itself as a “creative, innovative center for energy,” and that included both renewable methods and new technology for traditional methods.

“It’s an important event,” he said. “And we hope to keep having it here, and that it grows into one of our major offerings.”

Both Springs Utilities and Neumann Systems, a local gas-emissions technology company, are sponsors of the event, Rivera said.

In addition to discussing the latest technology, news about the latest advances will also be a topic.

Natural gas, nuclear energy and the crisis in the Middle East are all part of the agenda, he said. All three have ramifications for future energy needs, Blivin said.

“I still think nuclear energy is the clean energy of the future,” he said. “But we have to get this thing in Japan resolved and then see what lessons can be gained. It’s troubling.”

It all represents opportunity to Blivin, a venture capitalist, who used to organize an information technology summit when he lived in the Research Triangle Park area in North Carolina. After moving to Santa Fe, he realized that in the West it was all about energy.

Attendance at similar events Blivin has organized has averaged about 300. This year, he’s hoping to double that figure.

Global New Energy Summit, April 17-19 at The Broadmoor

Speakers:

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall

Dan Arvizu, director, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Bill Ritter, former governor of Colorado

Michael Picker, senior advisor of renewable energy in California.

Industry experts ConocoPhillips, Intel, Battelle, CH2M Hill and iTC Holdings Corp.

To register:

Visit http://gnes.rmtech.org.

Fees: $600 for for-profit companies; $400 for nonprofits; $200 for students.