By Denver Business Journal

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, who leaves office next week, will become director of a new ⿿Center for the New Energy Economy⿝ at Colorado State University, he announced Wednesday.

Ritter made the development of alternative energy resources and companies a hallmark of his four years in office.

Gov.-elect John Hickenlooper, Denverâ¿¿s mayor, will be sworn in as Coloradoâ¿¿s new governor on Jan. 11.

Ritterâ¿¿s new center will be part of the Fort Collins universityâ¿¿s School of Global Environmental Sustainability. Effective Feb. 1, Ritter will assume the title of senior scholar within the school.

Ritter said he planned to live in Denver but commute to Fort Collins and spend a ⿿significant⿝ amount of time at CSU. He said he expects to lecture and teach a class in addition to his duties as center director.

Ritter said funding for the center and his position will come from private sources: the San Francisco-based Energy Foundation; the Fort Collins-based Bohemian Foundation, founded in 2001 by Fort Collins heiress and Democratic Party supporter Pat Stryker; and other donors.

The 2010 Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans ranked Stryker No. 308, with an estimated net worth of $1.3 billion.

The Energy Foundation works on advancing energy efficiency and renewable energy, according to its website. It has several donors, including the ClimateWorks Foundation, The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and The David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Ritter said heâ¿¿s talked to The Energy Foundation about a senior fellow position, as well as to local and national law firm about jobs. CSU President Tony Frank emailed him a few months ago about joining the university and creating a new center.

⿿Education and energy are my highest passions, and this combines that with my desire for a clean-energy agenda,⿝ Ritter said during a Wednesday news conference.

Ritter also said it was important to him that funding for the center come from private sources ⿿because of the difficulty in securing public dollars during this crushing recession.⿝

The centerâ¿¿s total annual budget is expected to be about $550,000. About $360,000 will come from the two foundations, said Brad Bohlander, a CSU spokesman.

The budget includes a $300,000 annual salary for Gov. Ritter as director of the center, plus salaries for an assistant director, graduate student, and operating and programming money, Bohlander said.

Each foundation has agreed to pay about $180,000 a year for three years, he said.

⿿We⿿re very confident about the rest of the commitments becoming finalized in the near future, within weeks,⿝ Bohlander said.

⿿The New Energy Economy is now synonymous with Colorado⿝ Ritter said in a news release. ⿿The Center for the New Energy Economy will serve as a national leader as we move toward a future in which our children will produce and consume energy far differently than we do today. This new center will help address three key challenges for America: economic security, energy security and environmental security.⿝

Ritter, an attorney, earned his bachelorâ¿¿s degree in political science from CSU in 1978.

Ritter said heâ¿¿ll work closely with CSUâ¿¿s rural economic development activities to advance statewide economic initiatives related to clean and renewable energy. Other responsibilities will include:

â¿¢ Directing and overseeing the development of the new center, and working with internal and external partners to define its mission, scope and a five-year strategic plan.

â¿¢ Identifying and pursuing opportunities for the center to lead and participate in public policy discussions and debates related to clean-energy policy and the growth of the New Energy Economy.

â¿¢ Building and promoting the center as a vital, credible source of unbiased, science-based information, data and research on clean-energy policy and its economic impacts.

â¿¢ Engaging other universities, the private sector and other partners in the centerâ¿¿s mission and activities.

⿿Clean and renewable energy is a new economic frontier, and it⿿s important for Colorado and our country that we continue to position ourselves as leaders in this emerging economy,⿝ Frank said.

⿿This policy center ⿿ under Gov. Ritter⿿s leadership ⿿ will help build essential partnerships around research-based clean-energy solutions, workforce development, and advancement of technologies that will fuel long-term, sustainable economic growth.⿝

Copyright 2011 American City Business Journals

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