Governor visits Aspen, lauds renewable-energy facility | AspenTimes.com

Governor visits Aspen, lauds renewable-energy facility

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times

Gov. John Hickenlooper, second from left, speaks during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Amatis Controls' new manufacturing facility in the Aspen Business Center. Local elected officials who attended were Pitkin County commissioners Rachel Richards, Steve Child and Rob Ittner, as well as Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron, third from right.

During a visit to the Roaring Fork Valley on Sunday, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper joined other elected officials in celebrating the grand opening of Amatis Controls' new headquarters and warehouse facility in the Aspen Business Center.

Hickenlooper, who is seeking re-election, drove to Aspen from an earlier stop in Carbondale. Organizers said the Amatis event was designed to highlight the importance of homegrown renewable energy and jobs created within the industry. The company is a local manufacturer of wireless building controls and meters for renewable-energy systems, including solar power.

The governor suggested that Colorado could soon lead the way in the renewable-energy arena through growing companies like Amatis and its position near the nation's geographic center. Also, he said the state is becoming a haven for "millenials" — the name often associated with young (and future) adults born between 1982 and 2004 — youths who may be more committed to emerging environmental technologies than previous generations.

"It's got every sign of real manufacturing. They're going to be shipping stuff everywhere. It's incredibly exciting," he said of Amatis.

Hickenlooper, who in 1988 co-founded a brew pub, Wynkoop Brewing Company, in Denver's LoDo District, said he wished some of today's technologies had been in place then.

"If I could have had a cellphone and a way to actually monitor the energy in our building (using the cellphone), what a difference it could have made," he said.

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Hickenlooper is chairman of the National Governors Association, and pledged to work within that group to advance the cause of finding solutions to climate change.

"Governors are very different than Congress," he said. "It's bizarre. We can work together. We can sit down and work through it. We hear the Republicans talk about how they don't think climate change is that big of a deal, but you go to any state in the West, and every single governor, Republican and Democrat, is reducing carbon. It's a top priority."

Local elected officials, including Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron, joined Hickenlooper for a ribbon-cutting ceremony inside Amatis' new 3,000-square-foot space and made a few remarks. Amatis relocated its manufacturing facility from Wisconsin to the Aspen Business Center in September.

"Thank you for believing in Aspen," Skadron told Piper Foster, vice president of Amatis. "From a business perspective, I think this (facility) suggests something about Aspen being a 'best-kept secret' for small to medium-sized businesses outside of our resort economy. I hope this will be a model that others will follow."

Foster was queried about the reason for Hickenlooper's presence at the ribbon-cutting. She said companies in the renewable-energy field, such as Amatis, were bolstered by the state's new renewable-energy standards signed into law by Hickenlooper in 2013.

Senate Bill 252 of 2013 doubled the renewable-energy targets for rural electric cooperatives. The controversial bill requires cooperatives to get 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020. A move in January by Republican state legislators to overturn the law was unsuccessful.

"We appreciate (Hickenlooper's) recognition that renewable energy is a substantial jobs engine," Foster said.

Hickenlooper's Sunday schedule included the Glenwood Canyon Brewpub for the first half of the Denver Broncos' game with the New York Jets. He watched the second half at Carbondale Beer Works and stopped by a nearby Democratic Party campaign field office, then headed to Aspen.

andre@aspentimes.com

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