CREA Summit Focuses on Energy Innovation

Rare earth metals and their importance in new energy innovations were topics in one session of the Colorado Rural Electric Association’s 2012 Energy Innovations Summit October 29 in downtown Denver. Sessions also discussed electric vehicles, nuclear energy, biomass development and more.

In this ever-evolving world of energy policy, CREA works to keep its members on top of the latest developments. As part of that effort, CREA has hosted the Energy Innovations Summit for the past three years and opened it to others outside the electric co-op community who are interested in these topics.

This year’s Summit included a robust discussion of the future of coal-fired generation with executives from Xcel, Colorado Springs Utilities and Tri-State. All of the panelists agreed that the currently-low natural gas prices are a boon for utilities and their consumers, but the companies will all continue to rely on generation from their coal-fired fleets for a long time to come. The utilities representatives also reviewed the technologies they are exploring to reduce emissions from the coal plants to keep them viable into the future.

One of the highlights of the conference was the luncheon presentation by Dr. Tom Anklam from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Dr. Anklam provided a fascinating look at the Laser Inertial Fusion Energy or LIFE project that he and his team are working on in California. The potential for energy production from elements found in seawater is game changing and Dr. Anklam’s presentation demonstrated that great strides are being made in that technology.

The day wrapped up with a discussion of energy venture capital opportunities in Colorado.

Attendees declared the day a success as the Summit brought together diverse stakeholders to talk about challenges and solutions in today’s electric industry. Many points of view were offered and many opinions were shared. It was a day of looking to the future, working to find ways to keep electricity reliable, affordable and safe for electric co-op members.

—Kent Singer, CREA Executive Director