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Colorado Renewable Energy Award winners named

The winners of Colorado’s 2009 Governor’s Excellence in Renewable Energy awards, announced Tuesday, span wind energy, biofuels, and economic development in the sector.

The awards are aimed at companies, utilities and other entities that work to protect Colorado’s environment, diversify the state’s energy portfolio and provide renewable energy.

“Colorado is blessed with a creative and entrepreneurial spirit that is at the heart of our New Energy Economy,” Gov. Bill Ritter said in a statement. “Congratulations to these organizations and individuals who are building a new economic future, creating new jobs, protecting our state’s unique environment and increasing our energy security.”

The 2009 award winners are:

• Individual: Terry Meikle, manager of bioenergy for Colorado Springs Utilities. Meikle was honored for efforts to research and test woody biomass as a power source for city-owned utility. The utility expects to replace 75,000 tons of coal a year, starting in 2011, by burning forest debris as fuel. Additionally, the shift saves natural resources, diversifies energy supplies, creates a market for beetle-kill and forest debris, and reduces fossil carbon emissions. The U.S. Department of Agriculture gave the utility a $250,000 grant in 2009 for its work.

• Small Business: OPX Biotechnologies Inc. of Boulder uses bioengineering technology to convert renewable crops and other feedstocks into biofuel and bio-based chemistry products that offset the use of petroleum-based alternatives. The company’s process has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 75 percent and petroleum consumption by more than one half-million barrels per year compared to typical crude oil based processes.

• Large Business: Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc. (RES Americas), based in Broomfield, has more than 40 wind farms nationwide with more than 4,000 megawatts of capacity. RES Americas also works to educate students in renewable energy and partners with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden and others to expand the deployment of renewable energy. The company increased its staff by 25 percent during the economic downturn.

“RES Americas is honored to be recognized as a leader in Colorado for the efforts our company has made in the renewable energy industry,” said Craig Mataczynski, CEO of RES Americas, in a statement. “This recognition of our efforts to do the right things through involvement in the community, innovation, protection of personal and public safety, building quality and environmentally compatible projects provides validation of our employees’ efforts to make a positive impact on our industry and the state of Colorado.”

• Institution: Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association serves more than 35,000 consumers in Larimer, Weld and Boulder counties. The association worked with worked with customers to add 20 solar and wind systems, generating roughly 75 kilowatts of renewable energy. It also partnered with the StEPP Foundation, Center for Resource Conservation, Namaste Solar and the St. Vrain School District to install a 25-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system at Lyons High School, and support a renewable energy curriculum for the students. The association also will purchase electricity generated from methane gas captured at the Larimer County Landfill.

• Nonprofit: Northern Colorado Clean Energy Cluster is an economic development organization focused on growing clean and renewable energy jobs in Northern Colorado. The cluster attracts new clean and renewable energy companies to the region while assisting existing businesses and supporting local start-ups engaged in clean energy. It has also been involved in clean energy initiatives tied to FortZED in Fort Collins, the International Clean Tech Network and the State Land Board.