June 13, 2011 {authors} {/authors}

Raising awareness of alternative energy benefits to business

The Colorado Renewable Energy Society's been at it for 15 years

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Planet-Profit Report sat down with Tony Frank, executive director of the Colorado Renewable Energy Society, at its recent conference. Here's that interview:

What is CRES and what is its charter?

Colorado Renewable Energy Society was founded in April 1996. We are celebrating our 15-year anniversary. Our charter is to provide awareness of the economic benefits to businesses and consumers of alternative energy technology. We are also involved in public policy guidance, best practices and project based learning.

The organization engages with the various Colorado colleges, alternative energy associations and national research laboratories to tap into the wealth of knowledge and expertise. Through these relationships we are able to provide our members and the community fact-based, broad expertise to advance the market application of alternative energy solutions.

What differentiates CRES from the other renewable energy groups?

CRES provides education, execution and demonstration capabilities. For example, by participating in the Local Action – Global Solutions conference this week some people will be able to obtain continuing education credits.

We are building the Sustainability Park in partnership with Denver Housing Authority and Urban Farmers Collaborative. This is really exciting. It covers an entire city block in Denver at 2500 Arapahoe Street in downtown.  When the Sustainability Park is built out it will provide education and demonstrations on renewable energies, green building technologies, urban farming and smart water usage, green job training and address transportation alternatives. We anticipate the park will become a prototype for smart community development across the country.

CRES works with the utility companies and rural electric associations to help meet customer energy demands through the use of alternative energies. By partnering with them we are able to guide them to a sustainable energy future. Our objective is to work with the utilities to ensure their businesses are successful while continuing to advancing the adoption of alternative energies at the scales necessary to support their customers.

CRES provides guidance on public policy. Amendment 37 was a major turning point for Colorado. The legislature was repeatedly unwilling to pass a renewable energy requirement for the state. In 2005 we were able to get an initiative on the ballot asking the people of the state what they wanted, through the voting process. At that time the requirement was small, only 3 percent. It passed and since then Colorado has expanded it renewable energy requirements to 30 percent by 2020. These are big strides. Without a national energy policy it is up to the people, to the states, to set the direction for renewable energy standards. Colorado is one of the leaders in renewable energy adoption.

How did you become involved with CRES?

I am deeply interested in state and local policies. I’m a Colorado native and am sensitive to agriculture and water issues in this area. Prior to becoming executive director at CRES I was manager of development for Compass Wind, and director of renewable energy development for Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. Agriculture is a significant part of Colorado’s economic base. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to support. I led renewable energy programs that developed projects to support these large energy demands by agriculture producers. The projects included alternative resources such as wind, solar, small-hydro, biofuels and carbon sequestration.  

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