The Greening of the Governor

Solar panels on the mansion roof? Tree huggers and oil folks joining hands? 5280 talks with the man who wants Colorado to pioneer the way the country thinks about energy development.

November 2007

Cara McDonald: In your inaugural address you said, "Let's start by being bolder than any other state when it comes to renewable energy." At what point in your campaign did you think to yourself, "I'm going to make this one of the cornerstones of my platform"?

Governor Bill Ritter: The cornerstone of our first legislative session was renewable energy. I think we made a decision to do that during the campaign, as I became educated about this issue two years prior to taking office. I really became convinced that Colorado had so many prospects in the area of developing renewable energy, prospects that had not been explored, that hadn't been thought about in many senses, but certainly had not been developed. There are a lot of people in this state who are doing big things with renewable energy—in other states. And here we were with the resources, and with the intellectual resources. I think it helped, certainly, that at the same time I was running for office the national conversation on climate change started taking place. Al Gore and the movie An Inconvenient Truth did a great deal to change the conversation. We've seen a serious shift in people's view about climate change—in political terms, it'd be seismic.