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Colorado has got it going on when it comes to hydro

I don’t know what it is about the state of Colorado right now, but it seems every time I turn around I see news about the state and its support of or ties to hydropower.

The most recent is the announcement just days ago that President Obama nominated Colorado consultant and former utility regulator Ronald J. Binz to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, with the intention to name him chairman once he is confirmed by the Senate. Binz would be succeeding FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff, who submitted his resignation to the president in May.

Binz is a Democrat who has been principal of Public Policy Consulting since resigning from his position as chairman of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission in 2011. He is known to be a proponent of renewable energy, and his energy consultancy work has focused on climate, clean technology, integrated resource planning and smart grids.

In another Colorado story, in late May, the Colorado Department of Agriculture announced it was working to create a “small hydropower roadmap” for the state’s agriculture through its Advancing Colorado’s Renewable Energy program. CDA will focus ACRE resources in a few key areas in 2013, one of these being small hydropower, says Eric Lane, director of CDA’s Conservation Services Division.

To this end, work is already under way to “collect, aggregate and analyze market research data on the opportunities, costs, benefits and other barriers to the application and deployment of small hydropower technologies in agricultural operations throughout the state,” CDA says. Once a final report and recommendations are available by the end of this year, CDA can better focus ACRE resources on development of small hydro projects.

In light of the two above developments, I am going to go out on a limb here and say that it is with incredible foresight (not luck!) that PennWell chose Denver, Colo., to be the location for HydroVision International 2013. Less than three short weeks away(!), this event is drawing more than just interested attendees to Denver.

As I mentioned more fully in a previous blog, we’ve got some great high-level political figures scheduled to speak at HydroVision International. And they all have ties with Colorado!

-- Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper will be speaking during the opening keynote session on Wednesday, July 24;

-- U.S. Representative Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) will be presenting a video address during the opening keynote as well; and

-- Gary Hart, former U.S. Senator from Colorado and two-time presidential hopeful, is speaking during the closing awards luncheon on Friday, July 26.

In addition, the Colorado Small Hydro Association is co-locating its annual conference with HydroVision International. This event is being held on Tuesday, and attendees get access to the opening keynote session and the exhibit hall that day. COSHA conference attendees also can upgrade to attend the entire HydroVision International event.

What is it about Colorado that makes it such a hotbed of activity with regard to hydropower right now? I know the state has been a long-time hydro proponent, so this isn’t a NEW thing, but it sure seems to be growing every day. Don’t you wish you could bottle that enthusiasm and get-‘er-done attitude and take it back to your state? Maybe you can! And attending HydroVision International 2013 may be the first step in making that happen.

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