Ritter takes CSU job to develop new energy

Gov. Bill Ritter will have a new job when he leaves office next week.

Though the governor had fielded numerous “lucrative” offers from several state and national law firms and private foundations, the Democrat has decided to stick with an issue dear to his heart: his oft-touted new energy economy.

The governor will head a newly created Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

The job pays $300,000 a year, more than three times what he makes as governor.

“It is a heathier salary than the governor’s salary,” said Ritter, who currently makes $90,000 a year. “I had talked to a variety of other people about my next career and had some really interesting overtures from law firms, from foundations, and also Tony Frank, the president of CSU.”

The new center is to be funded from private donations, including the Bohemian Foundation, whose chief backer is Pat Stryker, a well-known Fort Collins billionaire who routinely donates to Democratic candidates and causes.

Ritter, who will start his new job Feb. 1, said he wanted to continue his work promoting renewable energy in the state and the jobs its gotten from it. Though he holds a law degree is from the University of Colorado, Ritter earned his undergraduate degree in political science at CSU.

“My heart is in continuing to develop a clean energy agenda for America,” said Ritter, who will step down as governor on Tuesday. “With the work that we’ve done over the past four years, signing 57 bills and a variety of significant companies that are making their home in Colorado because of our new energy economy agenda, all of this fits well with the thing that I’ve wanted to do most.”

The announcement drew immediate praise, even from the Colorado Oil and Gas Association that has long been at-odds with the governor over renewable energy versus natural gas.

Scott Moore, association chairman, said Ritter proved not to be as anti-old energy as some believed when he supported a measure during last year’s legislative session that called for converting aging coal-fired power plants on the Front Range to burn natural gas instead.

“Governor Ritter’s proven leadership in supporting passage of the Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act demonstrated how constructive public policies can advance the benefits of our abundant natural gas resources in providing energy we seek, creating high-paying jobs and protecting the environment,” Moore said.

The governor’s job will be to help the university support public policy, research and education on the further use of clean energy in the state and nation.

He also is to work with the school’s rural economic development programs to advance clean and renewable energies in the state, including the use of more natural gas.

“There are a lot of political impediments,” he said. “We have to as a country get beyond the politics of the discussion and understand the economic benefit, the national security benefit and the environmental benefits to domestically producing clean energy. That’s not just renewables. It includes natural gas as an important, clean domestic resource.”


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