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Clean Energy Firm Opens Western Office In Denver

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Stephanie Paige Ogburn
/
KUNC
Workers install a solar system on a rooftop in Denver.

Colorado is a state in the midst of a fossil fuel boom. But it's also a hub for alternative energy businesses and technology.

It's for that reason that a Washington, D.C. clean energy consulting firm, 38 North Solutions, chose Denver as the site for its western regional office.

"Denver is really a hub for a lot of the new and innovative technologies and business models in the clean energy space and also in the traditional energy space," said Jeff Cramer, the 38 North Solutions principal  heading the new office. For instance, the fastest-growing solar company in the country, Clean Energy Collective, is located in Louisville.

Cramer said much of the action in the clean energy sector is happening at the state level. In part, this is because of the Environmental Protection Agency's so-called Clean Power Plan, which will require states to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.

While Colorado seems well positioned to meet the EPA plan mandates, neighboring states may need help from consultants like Cramer.

States in general are at the forefront of many other clean energy policy actions as well. Public Utilities Commissions, once mostly ignored, are now battlegrounds for debates over the costs of different clean energy efforts such as rooftop solar and distributed generation of power.

"These [PUCs] are the bodies that really guide the direction for a state's energy mix and makeup," said Cramer. "The decisions they make will have great influence."

While battles over PUC commission decisions have not yet reached a fever pitch in Colorado, Cramer predicted it is only a matter of time.

In 2015, Cramer said he was excited to see how renewable energy is spreading beyond the "Birkenstock" consumer to the average person who wanted to save money on their power bill with a few solar panels.

When clean energy becomes available to everyone, that will change how it is perceived, he said.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn has been reporting from Colorado for more than five years, primarily from the Western Slope.
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