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Water Congress Panel and “Sustainability”

August 16, 2012

The 2012 Water and Energy Conference sponsored by the Colorado Water Congress kicked off in Steamboat Springs yesterday with several panels discussing topics ranging from the recent withdrawal of the public trust ballot initiative to the impacts of the drought on water availability and the devastating wildfires. The conference is an excellent opportunity for folks from the water and energy worlds to discuss the interaction between the two resources and the challenges we collectively face in providing affordable and reliable power and water to Colorado citizens.

I participated on a panel that explored “sustainable development” and I was joined by representatives of the Colorado Petroleum Association and Xcel Energy with facilitation by Jim Lochhead from Denver Water. While the term “sustainability” is usually associated with the allocation of limited natural resources, I suggested that from the electric co-op perspective, we are also concerned about the sustainability of rural communities in light of challenging economic times. In order for rural communities to thrive and attract jobs, they have to be able to provide electricity at prices that are at least close to urban alternatives. This is increasingly difficult in the face of unprecedented environmental regulations and burdensome permitting processes.

The panel also presented an opportunity to talk about the many co-op renewable power and energy efficiency projects, efforts which promote “sustainability” as that term is more commonly used.  We all have an obligation to use our finite natural resources in the least wasteful and most efficient way possible, a concept which electric co-ops and their member-owners have long understood.

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