Friday, May 1, 2009

Interwest Energy Alliance: A Strong Advocate for the Renewables Sector

This morning I had coffee with one of the Rocky Mountain West's most knowledgeable renewable industry leaders, Craig Cox.

Craig is the executive director of the Interwest Energy Alliance, a non-profit trade association that represents the nation’s leading companies in the renewable energy industry, bringing them together with regional non-governmental organizations in the Rocky Mountain region (Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming). Interwest performs outreach and representational activities and seeks to build collaborative, consensus-based approaches to new project development and transmission siting throughout the West. Anyone interested in renewable energy in this region should know about Interwest.

Craig has been active in renewable energy public policy development since working for Congressman Dan Schaefer (R-Colo) in Washington, D.C., where he formed the U.S. House Renewables and Energy Efficiency Caucus on Schaefer’s behalf in 1996. Craig is currently a member of the Western Governors’ Association’s Energy Working Group. In 2008, he received the first annual “Governor’s Excellence in Renewable Energy” individual award from Colorado Governor Bill Ritter.

A conversation with Craig is extremely illuminating since he has a clear understanding of the industry's perspective as well as policies at state and federal levels and how these policies promote (and in some cases discourage) development. This morning Craig voiced his enthusiasm for the business opportunities that lie ahead. However, he cautioned that there are challenges as well. One particular challenge involves transmission of electricity -- how can electricity generated in sparsely populated areas be transported to population centers. He and his organization are directly involved in discussions about how to address this issue.

From time-to-time I will be checking back with Craig to get a sense of how the renewables industry is feeling about state and federal policy-making. In the meantime, anyone who is interested in renewables should visit the Interwest Energy Alliance website.

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