Heavy hitters in Aspen for ARE Day | AspenTimes.com

Heavy hitters in Aspen for ARE Day

John ColsonAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN Gov. Bill Ritter and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper are the headliners at the fourth annual Aspen Renewable Energy Day Friday and Saturday in downtown Aspen.The politicians will be the opening speakers for two days of panel discussions and demonstrations featuring energy-industry executives and energy-efficiency experts from around the U.S. addressing the growing momentum of a movement that not long ago was dismissed as out of step with mainstream America.Organizer Chip Comins, an independent filmmaker and environmental activist who started ARE Day three years ago, said the event brings the discussion home to residents and broadens awareness of issues.At 3 p.m. Friday, Comins will kick off events at the Wheeler Opera House, speaking about the two-day event and its goals.Following that, Aspen City Councilman J.E. DeVilbiss will introduce Hickenlooper, who is scheduled to speak about his plans for “greening” the Democratic National Convention next year in Denver.Ritter will appear at approximately 3:30 p.m. (see related story), followed by a panel discussion led by valley environmental leader Randy Udall at 4 p.m.. The panelists will include the vice president of environmental policy for Xcel Energy; a Native American leader of the 11-tribe Intertribal Council on Utility Policy; and several experts on energy policy, climate change and other relevant matters.Friday also will feature a free showing of Leonardo diCaprio’s new film, “11th Hour,” at 7:30 p.m., which offers up the proposition that humanity is poised at the brink of self-destruction from industrial pollution and other factors, and that right now may be at the last moment at which it is possible to turn things around and prevent a worldwide calamity.”Not since a meteor hit the planet 55 million years ago have so many forms of life gone extinct,” declares a synopsis on the website of Warner Brothers, an indicator that humans have upset the delicate balances that created and sustain life on Earth.The film will show at the Wheeler Opera House, with doors opening at 7:30 p.m.From noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, there will be dozens of renewable energy displays lined up along the Cooper Avenue mall. The displays will be backed up musically by Jimmy Ibbotson and the Running Late Bluegrass Band. A corps of national renewable energy experts also will be on hand distributing relevant information.At 2 p.m., Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland will speak on “Our Renewable Energy Plan.” And, from 4-6 p.m., there will be two films shown at the Wheeler Opera House. “Crude Impact” is a documentary that “explores the interconnection between human domination of the planet, and the discovery and use of oil,” according the film’s website.”Nobody’s Home” is a film by Aspen Business Center developer John McBride and the Sopris Foundation, which McBride founded, about second homes in the Roaring Fork Valley that stand empty most of the time but consume large amounts of energy.John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com