Back to Top

Gov. Bill Ritter to Head New Colorado State University Policy Center for New Energy Economy

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.

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.

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.

“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.”

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."

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.”

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 and 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.

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.

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.

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.