Energy innovation highlights Grand Innovators event -Or-Energy innovation event Puts local self-deprecation to rest-Or-Energy innovation event shows We have much to be proud of

It’s pretty easy for us locals to beat ourselves up.

We can think that just because Grand County is located high in the hinterlands of Colorado there’s not much of anything new, innovative, green or exciting happening here. It’s the old symptom of rural self-loathing.

And yet . . . there’s an event taking place Tuesday night (Sept. 24), from 6-8 p.m. at the Headwaters Center in Winter Park that should go a long way toward putting that sort of self-deprecation to rest. It’s billed as an Energy Innovation Event and it’s being put on by Grand Innovators.

I promise that this event will make all of us sulking locals want to proudly embrace our desire to be forward-thinking, green, renewable and economically viable.

But first, who are the Grand Innovators? I consider myself a part of this group and have been attending many meetings put on by the Innovators. Who are they? A group of entrepreneurs, investors, leaders, educators, techies, scientists, connectors, authors and discoverers who enjoy sharing ideas that park innovation. It’s hard for me to believe that they event let me join in, but they do.

The goal of the group is to discover the unique permanent and part-time residents of Grand County and connect them to each other. The hope is that these collisions will result in new ventures in our area. In general, the group believes that strong eco-systems are the result of 1,000 nudges from people who come together and who are willing to share.

I know, it sounds too good to be true. But it is true, and this energy innovation event Tuesday is proof.

Here’s what’s going to take place at this event, the first such event in the county put on by the innovators. People who attend (it costs $10) will learn about all types of energy innovation taking place right here in our backyard, right up here in the hinterlands.

Panel discussions will help create a democratic, open platform from which local citizens can learn and share.

Learn about local renewable energy development, including the new Fraser solar project that’s being spearheaded through Mountain Parks Electric, our local electrical service co-op. Scott Simmons assistant general manager at Mountain Parks Electric will have lots to say about that project and other programs in place through our co-op, such as the member-supported Green Power Fund that provides rebates for locals installing renewable energy systems. Mountain Parks board member and former Department of Energy staffer Kristen Taddonio will also be on hand.

Austin Gray, partner and head of growth at Greenspaces Co-Working in Winter Park, and Quinn Antus, Executive Director at Responsible Growth, will talk about how co-working and energy start-ups are creating careers and becoming engines of growth in the tech world.

Energy stat-ups are even beginning to sprout right here in the county, allowing those critical connections to be made that allow for enough critical mass for more renewable energy development to be a reality in Grand County. For example, the event will also feature Benjamin Gregory, whose successful start-up Positive Energy (which designed energy systems for Devils Thumb Ranch and the new Winter Park Headwaters Center) was recently acquired by Shell New Energies, a division of one of the world’s largest company’s. Gregory’s comments at the event will be a great opportunity for locals to learn more about the new technologies used for the Headwaters Center’s energy systems. It’s cutting-edge technology. Off-grid solar is very rare for a facility of that size, and it will be interesting to hear more about how that works together with the battery storage system and efficient design. Anyone interested in new energy technologies, sustainable building, and how this amazing building works should attend.
Of course, the best part of the event will be the chance for local people who are innovative thinkers who value the intersection of green energy and economic development to talk and get to know one another.

After all the “collisions” occur as a part of the important networking at this event, we can realize that there are more Grand Innovators in the county that anyone may have imagined.
The event is sponsored by Crowe CCW Business Solutions and Re/Max Resorts of Grand County. Purchase tickets at

Patrick Brower is the Enterprise Facilitator for the Grand Enterprise Initiative. He offers free and confidential business management coaching to anyone who wants to start or expand a business in Grand County. He can be reached by calling 970-531-0632 or at

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