Summit focuses on harnessing boom

Conference had many energy perspectives

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— Thanks to new technology in the energy business, presenters at the Energy Summit, held Friday in Craig, were quick to talk about how things will be handled during the current energy boom in Northwest Colorado, and the benefits to be realized.

The Fueling Thought: Trends in Energy summit, hosted by Yampa Valley Partners, brought to town panels of experts, including company presidents, government officials and wildcat drillers, all to discuss the past, present and future of energy production in the region.

Here is what some of them had to say:

Colorado Department of Natural Resources

Mike King with CDNR explained to the audience current legislation and changing expectations in the energy industry.

"Oil shale development in Colorado presents many opportunities," he said. "It can be a positive experience if done well, but the risks are large."

King said maintaining water quality is critical, and many questions cannot be answered until research development and demonstration is completed.

"The message here is, go, but go slow and do it right," he said.

Colorado Mining Association

President of CMA Stuart Sanderson calls coal "One of the most important energy fuels, and the most abundant energy fuel in America," with 27 percent of the world's reserves here in the United States.

Fifty percent of America's electricity comes from coal, and states using coal for energy needs experience lower rates for electricity than other states.

"Sixty percent of the states coal is in Northwest Colorado, and production has been increasing since 1990," he said.

Sanderson said technology can offer "near zero emissions" from coal-powered plants in the future, and cars may even run one day off liquefied coal products.

Colowyo Coal Company

General Manager Keith Haley of Colowyo said coal produced locally not only has low sulfur, but also low mercury compared with other coal producers in America,

The company is working eight coal seams and producing 6 million tons of coal annually.

"We have large reserves of coal, and about 88 percent of the seams are economically open for mining," he said.

Twentymile Coal Co.

Environmental Manager for Twentymile, Jerry Nettleton, said the most productive mine in Colorado has a long history and a bright future.

"Underground mining is the future of energy in Northwest Colorado," he said. "Coal is cost effective, and we know how to produce and use it safely."

Colowyo opened a new long-wall for mining in 2006 and they currently load two or three trains each day with coal, he said.

Railroad Improvements

Randy Grauberger, Transportation Planning manager for PB Americas said the national trend in America is pointing to the doubling of freight shipments by 2030.

"Double tracking and automated switches are increasing productivity in the U.S." he said. "There is also pressure from corn shippers to get their product to ethanol plants."

The Hayden Station rail spur sought by Xcel Energy has been the focus of studies and workshops, with preserving agricultural land and a rail overpass over U.S. Highway 40 being considered.

A rail line bypassing cities on the Front Range and increasing capacity through the Moffat Tunnel are all options being considered at this time, he said.

Xcel Energy

Quinn Kiltey in Xcel's environmental services department is proud to work for the nation's largest supplier of wind-powered energy. The company also supplies 1.3 million electric customers with power in Colorado, and is the owner of Hayden Station.

"We will continue to see reductions in emissions and greenhouse gasses," Kiltey said. "Coal generation is low cost and reliable."

Julander Energy

Fred Julander is an independent driller for natural gas and oil in Northwest Colorado, and he said this is not your daddy's boom.

"The Lord gave us one more boom. Let's not mess it up this time," he said. "What's different this time, is it's more an exploding long-term demand for energy, with a lesser environmental impact."

Julander said energy could yield extensive economic benefits to Northwest Colorado, and the opportunity is there to invest in the area's infrastructure for the next 100 years.

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