Colorado: governor-elect’s transition committee with green energy focus has one former oil and gas exec 

Last Saturday, Colorado governor-elect Jared Polis’s transition team hosted a town hall meeting in the form of a telephone conference call. Comments that came out on the call offer a glimpse into the next governor’s energy priorities for Colorado. The governor-elect was not present on the Dec. 1 call.

Co-chairmen of the transition team’s Energy & Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee are former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter (D), governor of Colorado from 2017-2011, and former software entrepreneur Andrew Currie. These two gave information and answered questions.

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The two committee co-chairs said the members of the team are in the process of screening applicants to replace current department heads for:

  • the Colorado Energy Office;
  • the Colorado Department of Natural Resources;
  • Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment;
  • and the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

During the call Ritter and Currie said that the committee has been tasked to send three final candidates for each position to the new governor to interview. They said the governor would make all final hiring decisions for the state’s energy-related leadership posts.

Energy questions that came up during the telephone town hall

Q: How serious is the governor-elect on climate change?

A: The governor is absolutely committed to address climate change – keeping in mind he is the leader of a single state.

A question was asked about the qualifications needed by the next director of the Colorado Energy Office. “The qualifications that the people must have—they must be aligned with Governor Polis’s agenda and his goal of 100% renewables by 2040,” was the response.

The co-chairs said that the committee searching for cabinet leaders has sought out candidates with three key themes in their backgrounds: “innovation, visionary and change.”

Local control and drilling setbacks

Polis Energy Transition Team offers Glimpse of what is Coming to Colorado

Colorado Governor-elect Jared Polis – photo: U.S. Congress

A question was submitted about giving more local control for oil and gas permitting decisions to counties and cities in Colorado and asked what would be the new governor’s follow up after Colorado voters posted large numbers in favor of Proposition 112 that would have essentially shut down new drilling in Colorado, if it had passed.

“The governor-elect is absolutely committed to solving the problem,” was the answer.

Coal-dependent communities

One of the questions asked how the governor would handle the transition for “coal-dependent communities” in Colorado, relating to both coal-fired generation and coal mining.

“Governor-elect Polis cares a lot about these communities; he cares deeply,” was the response.

Q: Are you doing a search only in Colorado for the director of the Department of Natural Resources?

A: It’s a national search. We are seeking the best and the brightest.

SWOT report is a deliverable 

Currie said that the committee had a “second deliverable” – to do a SWOT analysis that would identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats at the departments for which it is responsible—energy, natural resources, agriculture, and that it would also look at electricity sources and discuss the decision process at the public utility commission in the process. The two chairmen said the SWOT report is due on inauguration day—January 8, 2019.

Governor-elect Polis’s energy agenda

During his campaign for Colorado governor and as a U.S. congressman representing the Boulder area, Polis promoted his strong support of renewable energy. His website statement says: “We need a bold goal of 100 percent renewable energy. As Governor, I will work with all involved parties to accomplish our statewide clean energy transition by 2040.”

The search committee members who are screening energy and natural resources department head applicants

The committee members’ backgrounds are strongly in line with the governor-elect’s 100%-renewables agenda. The Polis transition team’s Energy & Natural Resources and Agriculture committee members include:

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