Steamboat Springs Generating renewable energy sources could generate income for Northwest Colorado ranchers and farmers.
That is the message Tom Potter will be giving at a Renewable Energy Forum to be held Thursday and Friday.
The forum is hosted by the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union and will feature three speakers discussing alternative energy.
Potter, who is the director of the New Center for Rural Economics and Energy Development, said the rural sector is in bad shape and one way to bring in new income and jobs is by generating new sources of energy.
He points to wind generation, biofuels and solar production as ways ranchers can create energy.
"People consider, and on the whole farmers and ranchers, that alternative energy is some form of tree hugging. They ask, what does that have to do with me?" Potter said. "We are talking about rural economic development. You can have clean air in the city from fuels grown in Colorado."
Potter is just one of the speakers who will come to a Thursday forum in Craig and a Friday forum in Steamboat. The forum will also have two other speakers: Megan Castle, the public information officer for the Governor's Office of Energy Management and Conservation, and Mark Schofield, a staff member from the Western Colorado Congress.
Ashley Krest, who works for the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, said the forums were sparked by the organization's involvement in Coloradans for Renewable Energy, formed by organizations around Colorado in support of renewable energy technologies and energy-efficient practices.
"We just wanted to get the word out (on renewable energy). It is an excellent economic development tool for rural communities," Krest said. "This is really key for rural communities and farming communities."
Krest said the forum would also have an extensive question-and-answer session and time for visitors to walk through the exhibits.
So far, the forum has been held at three sites on the state's Eastern Slope and in Alamosa and Delta. Potter said farmers and ranchers have been eager to learn about ways to bring in income through energy resources.
"We had a great response. Everywhere we have been, people are, in fact, determined to do something about a system that kept income from farmers that could have been coming to them," Potter said.