Ritter takes energy job at CSU

Gov. Bill Ritter holds up a student ID card from when he attended Colorado State University. He announced Wednesday he will become director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University on Feb. 1. Enlarge photo

ED ANDRIESKI/AP

Gov. Bill Ritter holds up a student ID card from when he attended Colorado State University. He announced Wednesday he will become director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University on Feb. 1.

DENVER – Gov. Bill Ritter has landed a job at Colorado State University that will let him continue his passion for clean energy.

Ritter will direct CSU’s new Center for the New Energy Economy starting Feb. 1.

A Ritter adviser coined the phrase “New Energy Economy” during his 2006 campaign. It became his trademark as governor.

At CSU, Ritter will set up the new center and position it to be a part of the national debate on clean energy.

“I think it’s one of the more important public policy questions for us as a country and quite frankly for us as a globe,” Ritter said Wednesday.

As governor, Ritter actively courted windmill and solar companies, and he backed dozens of bills to create mandates or tax credits for clean energy.

The job will provide Ritter a substantial raise, paying $300,000 a year. As governor, he made $90,000 a year.

“It’s a healthier salary than the governor’s salary,” Ritter said.

The total annual budget for the center will be $550,000, which will pay Ritter’s salary, plus an assistant director, a graduate student and all operating expenses, said CSU spokesman Brad Bohlander.

Ritter said he declined “lucrative offers” from law firms and foundations.

“I was very flattered by that, but I really believe my heart is in developing and continuing to develop a clean energy economy for America,” Ritter said.

He expects to teach at least one class and lecture in others. His first duty will be a Feb. 1 speech in Washington.

The center will be funded by private donors. Initial funding will come from the San Francisco-based Energy Foundation and the Bohemian Foundation, which is funded by Pat Stryker, a major donor to Democratic candidates in Colorado.

During the last months of 2010, Ritter made no secret of his desire to stay in Colorado and to work in energy policy.

CSU President Tony Frank approached Ritter a few months ago about coming to the university, and they came up with the idea for the center.

CSU is already a leader in clean energy, Ritter said. He pointed to the university’s spin-off of Solix Biofuels, which opened a plant on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation to turn algae into diesel fuel.

Ritter will leave office Tuesday. Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien announced in October that she would go to work for the Piton Foundation in Denver starting in February to advance the education reform agenda she pursued at the Capitol.

jhanel@durangoherald.com

Comments » Read and share your thoughts on this story