Category Archives: Events

Bringing Solar Power to Africa and the Navajo Nation

Doug Vilsack, Executive Director, Elephant Energy

Presentation Synopsis

Elephant Energy, based in Denver, CO, delivers solar powered lighting to Namibia, Africa and to the Navajo Nation through an innovative model of entrepreneurial development and energy outreach. While more than seventy percent of Namibia’s urban population has access to the electric grid, only fifteen percent of rural households are connected – the resources to construct an effective system of transmission to meet the needs of the rural population are not in place and, therefore, the majority of homes go without lighting. Rural Namibians must either find alternatives to grid-based power or continue to live without electricity for the foreseeable future.

The Navajo Nation, located primarily in Northeastern Arizona, faces similar electricity challenges. Despite its location within the United States, about 38 percent of households in the Navajo Nation lack electricity, and over 50 percent of Navajo live below the poverty line. Despite requests for modern, grid-based power, the remote location of many Navajo households makes electricity extremely expensive, forcing many people to go without electricity or lighting.

Elephant Energy is delivering lighting solutions to Africa and the Navajo Nation through appropriate sustainable energy technologies (ASET’s), such as solar powered lights and efficient cook stoves, and small-scale renewable energy developments.

Speaker Bio

Doug Vilsack is the founder and Executive Director of Elephant Energy.  He is a lawyer from Colorado, working with the law firm of Davis Graham & Stubbs in Denver in the practice areas of environmental law, Indian law, and renewable and alternative energy law.  Doug focused on environmental and energy-related issues while attending the University Of Colorado School Of Law and continues to work with students at the University on a variety of energy-related projects.  Doug first traveled to Namibia in 2005 to work for the World Wildlife Fund and has returned on numerous occasions to continue his work with community-based conservation organizations.  Prior to his work in Namibia, Doug attended Colorado College and founded the Paddle for the Presidency, a non-profit venture that organized an expedition that canoed the entire length of the Mississippi River and registered over 2000 young voters during the 2004 Presidential election.

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Elephant Energy

A Community Discussion with the Colorado Association of Municipal Utilities (CAMU)

Colorado Municipalization Experts, moderated by Dan Hodges, Executive Director, CAMU

Presentation Synopsis

CAMU is a non-profit organization that provides legislative representation, training and information to the 29 cities and towns of Colorado that own and operate their own electric systems. The primary mission of CAMU is to represent the interests of municipal electric systems at the Colorado State Legislature in a nonpartisan manner. CAMU believes that the needs of Colorado’s municipal electric systems are best met at the local level. To that end, CAMU works to urge our state and federal elected officials to respect the sanctity of local control in Colorado. The CAMU panel will focus on legislative and legal considerations that municipalized communities face and how CAMU provides assistance.

Speaker Bios

Dan Hodges, Executive Director of CAMU, will moderate the evening’s panel which will consist of professionals in the municipal utility industry: William McEwan, Phil Movish and Craig Johnson.

William McEwan has practiced energy law in Colorado for 35 years and currently serves as Assistant General Manager and General Counsel to the Arkansas River Power Authority, headquartered in Lamar, Colorado, which furnishes the wholesale electric power needs of its member municipalities — Holly, Lamar, La Junta, Las Animas, Springfield, and Trinidad. Mr. McEwan served as legal counsel on an evaluation of municipalization in Pueblo, has authored power supply RFP’s, and has prepared the financing documentation and construction contracting for a variety of generation projects, including a wind power project commissioned in 2004. He has negotiated green tag sales contracts for renewable energy facilities, and he has written several integrated resource plans for electric utilities.

Phil Movish is partner and executive consultant of Energy & Resource Consulting Group, LLC. He has forty years experience with public and privately owned utilities, with emphasis on development of long-range resource and capital expansion plans, electric transmission and distribution studies, merger and acquisition matters, asset appraisal studies, capital financing programs, litigation support, and regulatory proceedings.

Craig Johnson is currently the outside legal counsel for CAMU. Mr. Johnson is an experienced trial lawyer who has represented electric and telecommunications utilities in litigation and regulatory contexts, including insurance coverage and risk management, prosecution and defense of actions related to destruction of facilities, membership disputes in joint action agencies, and disputes over.

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Colorado Association of Municipal Utilities

Local Power, Local Control – Lessons from Around the World

John Farrell, Senior Researcher, Institute for Local Self Reliance

John Farrell speaking in Boulder, CO
Photo courtesy of dgrinbergs

Presentation Synopsis

The mission of the Institute of Local Self Reliance (ILSR) is to provide innovative strategies, working models and timely information to support environmentally sound and equitable community development. ILSR works with citizens, activists, policymakers and entrepreneurs to design systems, policies and enterprises that meet local or regional needs; to maximize human, material, natural and financial resources; and to ensure that the benefits of these systems and resources accrue to all local citizens.

Mr. John Farrell, senior researcher, focuses on aspects of community control of energy through the “New Rules Project” at ILSR which was started back in 1998. The New Rules Project brings fresh new policy solutions to communities and states to ensure that they are “designing rules as if community matters.” Mr. Farrell’s work has included studies on community solar power, energy self-reliance, the costs of nuclear power, and feed-in-tariffs. He is currently focusing on the job creation possibilities being driven by the feed-in-tariff policies in Ontario, Canada.

Speaker Bio

John Farrell is a senior researcher on the New Rules Project at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, where he examines the benefits of local ownership and dispersed generation of renewable energy. His latest paper – “Maximizing Jobs From Clean Energy: Ontario’s ‘Buy Local’ Policy” – looks at the 43,000 jobs and 5,000 MW of clean energy scheduled under Ontario’s recent feed-in tariff program. He’s also the author of the second and expanded edition of Energy Self Reliant States, illustrating the potential for every state to meet their renewable energy goals with in-state renewable energy sources.

Presentation Video

10 min John Farrell Presentation Video here

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Institute for Local Self Reliance

New Rules Project:  Designing rules as if community matters

An Evening With Boulder’s City Attorney, Tom Carr: Thursday, August 18th, at 6:30pm

Boulder City Attorney, Tom Carr, has supervised the many steps in the process of clarifying and determining Boulder’s Clean Energy Future. On Thursday, August 18th, at 6:30pm at the First Presbyterian Church in Boulder (1820 15th St. Boulder, CO 80302), he will share his personal perspectives on the historical nature of the upcoming municipalization ballot measure, as well as the important contents of the ballot language.

Tom Carr is the City Attorney and primary legal advisor to the City Council and City Manager. He manages the City Attorney’s Office staff and outside counsel arrangements and is responsible for prosecuting violations of city ordinances.
Tom provides the city with a broad range of legal services including litigation, contract and ordinance drafting, transactional work and administrative hearings. Presently his focus is on environmental, social, and regional growth issues.
From 2002 through 2009, Tom was the city attorney in Seattle, Washington, where he gained extensive experience dealing with issues similar to those faced byBoulder.  Serving as the general counsel and chief prosecutor for the 12th largest city in the United States, Tom managed a 90 attorney law office and provided legal advice and guidance to elected officials and city departments.  He brought a collaborative problem-solving approach to the task of addressing public safety and community issues by building partnerships with courts, other prosecutors, social service providers and community leaders.
Prior to serving as Seattle City Attorney, Tom was a partner is a Seattle law firm specializing in commercial litigation.  From 1986 through 1990, he served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, specializing in organized crime civil RICO cases.
Tom earned a sociology degree from St. John’s University and his law degree fromNew York Law School, where he served as Research and Articles editor on the Law Review, on the Moot Court Board and as part of the National Moot Court team.

Forming a Municipal Utility: The City of Winter Park, Florida Experience

Randy Knight, City Manager, Winter Park, FL

Speaker Bio

Randy Knight was the lead staff member in the efforts by the City of Winter Park, Florida to municipalize beginning in 2000. Despite opposition from the local utility (Progress Energy Florida), the municipalization effort passed with 69% of the vote in September 2003. After issuing Requests for Proposala (RFP’s) for power supply and management of the distribution system, the City of Winter Park began supplying community-owned power on June 1, 2005. Since becoming a municipal utility, significant strides have been made in reliability improvements including placing over 7 miles of mainline feeders underground and completing 5 neighborhood undergrounding projects.

Presentation Video

Randy Knight – Winter Park, FL

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City of Winter Park