Honoring the clean energy gov

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter likes to joke that he coined the term “new energy economy” – before President Barack Obama co-opted it from him on the campaign trail.

Ritter, who has signed 56 clean-energy bills into law during his tenure, has been named the Political Advocate of the Year in the inaugural Colorado Cleantech Industry Association Awards.
The CCIA, an industry trade group launched about two years ago, announced seven winners among 20 finalists last week during a luncheon timed to coincide with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory Industry Growth Forum in Denver.

Ritter has pushed for Colorado to become a hub for cleantech development, attracting such major players as Vestas, which has established its U.S. wind power manufacturing operations here. He also signed a law this year that requires the state’s primary utility to replace older, inefficient coal plants.

“When I became governor, we decided on a strategy where we would really focus on this as one of the pillars of our economic development,” Ritter said shortly before receiving the award. “It wasn’t just about economic development. It had a nice tie into being able to capture domestic resources. We also believe it answers some of our environmental challenges by moving toward clean energy and cleantech.”

Ritter acknowledged a synergy among the Western states in the promotion of clean-energy technology, improvements to electricity transmission and the challenges around land use, wildlife and energy policy. Colorado, which will require 30 percent of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020, is second only to California in adopting such standards.

“If you look at what the Western governors have actually done to make recommendations about energy development we’ve probably done as well in a bipartisan fashion as any political organization in America,” Ritter said. “Republicans and Democrats have talked about the ability to use the sun, the wind and geothermal and how that would complement different kinds of fossil fuel energy, particularly natural gas.

The other award winners recognized by the CCIA are:

High Impact Cleantech Company of the Year: Abound Solar. The Loveland company, a spinoff from Colorado State University, is producing the next generation of thin-film cadmium telluride solar modules for large- and utility-scale commercial installations.

Runner-Up High Impact Cleantech Company of the Year. This Boulder-based company develops energy management software, hardware and services for both consumers and utility companies.
Breakout Cleantech Company of the Year: Ice Energy. Founded in 2003, Windsor-based Ice Energy’s smart grid platform integrates distributed energy storage technology with software infrastructure and intelligent two-way control to provide utilities with a cost-effective alternative to conventional peaking power plants for meeting peak demand.

Emerging Cleantech Company of the Year: VanDyne SuperTurbo. This Fort Collins company specializes in the design, development and production of SuperTurbochargers for the automotive market and for heavy-duty engine manufacturers. A The company’s transmission-driven turbocharger can function as a supercharger or a turbo compounder that recovers waste heat that is added to engine power.

Colorado Cleantech Entrepreneur of the Year: Raymond R. Johnson. Johnson has been the president and CEO of Littleton-based Infinite Power Solutions since September 2005. He has grown the company from five full-time employees to nearly 50, and has raised more than $60 million in equity investment. IPS has completed the build-out of the world’s first volume manufacturing facility for solid-state rechargeable batteries.

National Cleantech Leader: Rocky Mountain Institute. Based in Snowmass, this nonprofit research and educational foundation, founded by Amory and Hunter Lovins, works with the public and private sector to emphasize integrative design and advanced technologies to promote energy efficiency and the sustainable use of resources.

Governor’s Award for Excellence in Cleantech Leadership: Ron Bernal, NEA. Bernal joined Boulder-based NEA in 2010 as a venture partner focused on information technology and energy technology investments. He is a director of Boulder Wind Power, Data Robotics and ProStor. The founding member and chairman of the Colorado Cleantech Industry Association also serves on the board of the Rocky Mountain Cleantech Open.

Finalists included:

High-Impact Cleantech Company of the Year: Advanced Energy Industries, Solaron Business (Fort Collins), CoorsTek (Golden) and Infinite Power Solutions Inc. (Littleton).
Breakout Cleantech Company of the Year: OPX Biotechnologies Inc. (Boulder) and ZeaChem, Inc. (Lakewood).
Emerging Cleantech Company of the Year: Green Garage (Boulder) and RavenBrick LLC (Denver).
Colorado Cleantech Entrepreneur of the Year: Doug Schatz, Advanced Energy Industries (Fort Collins) and Adrian Tuck, Tendril (Boulder).
National Cleantech Leadership: Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Golden).
Governor’s Award for Excellence in Cleantech Leadership: Richard Franklin, Clean Tech Open (Denver) and Paul Nelson, Saoradh Energy (Boulder).

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