Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. Accordingly, a 'genius' is often merely a talented person who has done all of his or her homework.
- Thomas Edison
What Do Governors Think of the Energy Issues Today?


Two weeks ago, I had the benefit of attending the 21st Century Energy Transition Symposium held at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.  Originally designed to discuss natural gas development, safety, technology, and policy, the symposium, now in its seventh year, has transformed to discuss the transition from more traditional forms of energy to new, renewable forms of energy.  The highlight of the event was a Governor’s Lunch Keynote Panel which included three sitting governors and one former governor.         


Moderated by former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, the Panel included current Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, and Wyoming Governor Matt Mead.  The sitting Governors came from both political parties but had one thing in common, all came from energy producing states.  


Governor Mead reminded the audience that Wyoming is the largest exporter of energy producing coal, uranium, and wind energy.  Throughout the panel the three sitting governors held friendly arguments over who had the “best” wind.  Wyoming’s number one industry is energy while its number two industry is tourism.  Home to the nation’s first national park, Yellowstone, Governor Mead acknowledged that we must take care of the environment, and we should not be afraid of where science leads us.


Governor Bullock, operating in the conservative coal state of Montana, boasted 28% of the nation’s coal reserves and 8% of the world’s coal reserves.  Despite a heavy coal industry in the state, Governor Bullock expressed the need to address climate change and to meet the climate challenges with technical innovation.  With a population of approximately one million and annual visitors to the state of 12 million, Governor Bullock shared that Tesla had put six charging stations in Lima, MT, population 224.  He surmised that since there were probably not six Teslas in Lima, or even in the state, that they were placed there strategically along I-15 to allow quick charging for those travelling.


Colorado Governor Hickenlooper spoke of a new future where wind energy costs had dropped by two-thirds in the last five years and solar costs had dropped approximately 80% in the last five years.  While emphasizing the importance of the future vision, he counter-balanced it with the reality of keeping price and reliability in check for the existing energy sources.


Bottom Line?  The three sitting Governors are from different political parties, yet they share similar outlooks on energy.  We need to keep our existing energy sources reliable and price competitively while investing in future energy sources.  None were solely pro coal, and none were solely pro renewable.  A balanced approach seemed to dominate the panel.  Now these Governors may not be representative of their colleagues in other states.  They are all from mountain west states that produce energy, and they also preside over some of the most beautiful places in the United States.  Former Governor Ritter tried to sum it up and give each Governor a “win.”  Wyoming has better wind, Montana has better transmission, and Colorado has better skiing.  Speaking of skiing, the resorts are opening.  Hope to see you on the slopes soon!     


Jon Brock is President of utility and energy advisor Desert Sky Group, LLC.  He can be reached at  

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