INterview with Maury Dobbie, assistant director of the Center for the New Energy Economy
Monday August 29, 2016
Maury Dobbie began her entrepreneurial career at the age of 19. Over a span of 27 years, she founded and operated six diverse companies, holding CEO or principal positions. As an example, in 1994 Dobbie founded a successful video production company and expanded it rapidly into an award-winning multimedia enterprise, with a web-development department and live event services.
Prior to joining the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University, Dobbie was president/CEO of a regional not-for-profit economic development corporation in Northern Colorado. While the CEO of the economic development corporation, Dobbie helped create the Northern Colorado Clean Energy Cluster and has been a part of Colorado’s new energy economy movement since 2006. She worked with industry partners to create Colorado State University’s Systems Engineering Program and the Clean Tech Certification Program at Front Range Community College.
For the sixth year, Dobbie is heading up the 6th annual Colorado State University-hosted 21st Century Energy Transition Symposium (formerly called the Natural Gas Symposium). She also splits part of her time working with the Colorado Energy Research Collaboratory as Executive Director.
Dobbie has received numerous business awards, including the Entrepreneur of the Year award from the Northern Colorado Business Report; the Woman Leader of Excellence award from the Colorado Women’s Leadership Coalition; Top 10 Women Making a Difference; Creative Vision for Women; the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Women in Business Champion of the Year; and Office Depot’s prestigious national Businesswoman of the Year award.
She holds a BS in business administration and management from the University of Wyoming. Maury continues to finish her MBA at Colorado State University.
Q: What exactly is the mission of the Center for the New Energy Economy (CNEE)?
A: The Center for the New Energy Economy provides policy makers including governors, legislators, regulators and other decision makers with a roadmap that will accelerate the nationwide development of the new energy economy. That economy will create and keep jobs in the United States; encourage development and use of clean and affordable domestic energy; protect our environment and climate; and keep America on the leading edge of global competition.
Q: Why did CNEE decide to be one of the hosts of the Natural Gas Symposium for the last 5 years?
A: While working for CNEE as Assistant Director, I was asked to head up the planning of the natural gas symposia in the fall of 2011 and have stayed in that role for the past 6 years. CNEE is a separate department at Colorado State University. CNEE was one of the Energy Institute’s centers and is a host for the symposium. Former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter is the founder of our Center since February 2011 and has been on the founding steering committee for the symposium for the past 6 years as well.
Q: Why did CNEE change the title this year to the "21st Century Energy Transition Symposium"?
A: For the past 5 years, CSU has built a positive reputation of hosting balanced symposia that didn’t shy away from talking about all the issues related to natural gas. The prior symposia have focused heavily on issues related to oil and gas extraction with the participation of a good mix of stakeholders from industry, environmental groups, regulators from all levels, community members and from the academic community. We have been fortunate to have a variety of high profile speakers at our conference including Senator Michael Bennet, Governor Hickenlooper, Fred Krupp (President, Environmental Defense Fund), Jeff Immelt (CEO of GE) and Chuck Davidson (former CEO at Noble Energy) only to name a few. This year, our external steering committee for the conference, which includes representatives of all of the above-mentioned stakeholder groups, had decided to focus the conference on the 21st Century Energy Transition. I, and the rest of the committee, believe that a forum on the transition must involve the role of innovation in developing the technologies of the 21st Century.
As we did the past five years, we will be inviting everyone from different perspectives to be on our panels. We’ve always offered the symposia free of charge and have always live streamed the sessions free of charge. We recorded the sessions from the inaugural year and all can be watched at any time on the website (www.energytransition.colostate.edu). Our goal on Sept. 28-29 will be to talk about the opportunities and challenges related to energy transitions we see going on in the United States while being visionary about what the future could be. CSU has always emphasized the importance of applied research and collaborative partnerships with an eye towards practical and affordable solutions. Many ongoing and important projects have been spurred because of the past symposia that have resulted in solutions that will ultimately impact American lives.
Q: As an energy policy center, how does CNEE work with other states? How can CNEE make a lasting difference in the U.S.?
A: In light of the lack of cross-cutting national energy policies, CNEE continues to help state policymakers and key decision makers track their energy policies. Tracking that leadership among 50 different states working with differing energy needs and policy ideas is no small feat. The Nature Conservancy recently partnered with CNEE to launch the State Policy Opportunity Tracking (SPOT) for Clean Energy (www.spotforcleanenergy.org) tool, which synthesizes existing information from over 17 different sources related to 38 clean energy policies at the state level and provides a means of determining where each state stands with respect to five key policy components. This resource is a 50-state policy gap analysis where CNEE looks at what best practices states have in place and what they are missing.
While it is not intended to be a scorecard, SPOT can provide — at a glance — an insight as to where the future is brightest for clean energy, and where we can get to work today to establish the United States as a leader in the clean energy economy of the 21st century. The Nature Conservancy is already at work in each of its 50 state chapters, marshaling its resources and relationships to make as much progress as we can, even in the absence of a comprehensive federal policy.
Another website launched by CNEE in 2013, the AEL Tracker database (www.aeltracker.org) contains advanced energy legislation across all 50 states. The database also includes other legislation that would either reduce or increase the market share for advanced energy. AEL Tracker organizes legislation into the following policy categories: Electricity Generation; Energy Efficiency; Financing; Regulatory; Natural Gas; Emissions; Transportation; Infrastructure; Economic Development; Other Energy. In total, the Tracker database provides current legislative language, recent actions, bill sponsor information, and policy trend analyses.
In a blog recently written by Lynn Scarlett in TriplePundit and where CNEE was mentioned, “The glimpses of possibility shown by what is happening at the state level suggest that if the full economic might of the United States were brought to bear under a cohesive federal policy, our role as a world energy innovation leader is all but assured. New technologies are being brought to bear and new business models are being explored. Investors are adding new capital, and the market is hungry for new opportunities to the tune of over $348 billion invested in clean energy in 2015 alone, a new record. We can lead, follow, or get pushed out of the way by other nations that rise to the challenge faster, with more vigor and more comprehensively. Our energy future is up to us.”
Q: How is CNEE involved in the EPA Clean Power Plan initiative?
A: CNEE has been convening environmental officials, utilities, utility regulators and other stakeholders from 13 western states since June, 2014 on issues pertaining to the Clean Power Plan. CNEE offers these comments on EPA’s Proposed Federal Plan and Model Trading Rules based on discussions with Western states involved in our process. CNEE has built the Western States Clean Power Plan Evaluation Model that enables a common baseline dataset and evaluation framework for Western States and tribes to evaluate CPP compliance pathways. The model is capable of analysis at the electric generation unit (EGU), utility, state and multi-state levels. For more info, go to www.westernstate111dplans.org
Q: On the local level, the City of Fort Collins, Rocky Mountain Innosphere and Colorado State University are conducting the Innovate Fort Collins EV Charging Challenge, with proposals submitted from Northern Colorado, Colorado and other parts of the United States to be revealed at the symposium. What are the goals of that effort?
A: I approached Mike Freeman, CEO at the Rocky Mountain Innosphere, about holding a competition that we could include in the 21st Century Energy Transition Symposium. My goal was to bring in the entrepreneurial spirit within the event, again with an eye towards practical and effective solutions in the marketplace to solve energy issues. Mike suggested we partner with the City of Fort Collins and the initiative grew to what will be shared on Sept. 28 from 4:30-5 p.m. when we will announce a winner. For more information about the EV Challenge, click here.
Everyone is invited to any or all of the energy symposium sessions, including the EV Charging Challenge, at the 21st Century Energy Transition Symposium slated for Sept. 28-29 on the Colorado State University campus in the Lory Student Center. For more information about the two-day symposium, go to www.energytransition.colostate.edu.
It is free to attend in person or watch the live stream, but everyone has to register.