Independence, opportunity stressed at energy forum
Mesa County’s energy future should include independence and opportunity, panelists said at a Monday night forum.
“We need to plan for a balanced economy,” Bennett Boeschenstein told a group of about 80 people at Boomer’s, a downtown restaurant turned auditorium for the night.
Other panelists, including Duke Cox of the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance; Susan Alvillar of Williams Energy; Reeves Brown, executive director of Club 20; Mary Ellen Denomy, president of the National Association of Royalty Owners of the Rockies; and Dave Neslin, acting director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, all stressed the need for balance in moving ahead with energy development.
Cox said he would like to see each of western Colorado’s valleys become independent using all forms of energy.
“It’s entirely possible” for each valley, using solar, agricultural and other forms of energy, to become energy independent, Cox said.
Whatever happens, said Brown, “It’s got to be affordable,” and he urged participants, “Don’t displace one culture with another.”
The forum was intended to help the Mesa County Commission formulate its energy master plan.
“I’d like to see opportunity,” said Alvillar. “I’d like to see the opportunity for many, many years for all forms of energy we have here” to be used so that families can remain in the valley.
Good planning, Neslin said, could help limit boom-bust pendulum swings that have characterized the West’s extractive-industry history.
Despite polarization on some issues, most people tend to agree on the bulk of energy-related issues facing the region, Neslin said.
Planners also need to take into account the values lost when natural gas is drilled, such as displacing productive fields for wellheads for decades, Denomy said
“You can’t base your economy on only one industry,” Denomy said.