Renewable energy summit packs Snowmass with big thinkers, free events |

Renewable energy summit packs Snowmass with big thinkers, free events

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Michael Brune, CEO of the Sierra Club, is one of the keynote speakers at the American Renewable Energy Summit in Snowmass Village June 19-22.
Henrik Kam, Sierra Club/courtesy photo |

Roaring Fork Valley resident Chip Comins isn’t buying a certain someone’s concept that we have to make America great again.

“We’re already a great country. We don’t have to make ourselves great again,” said Comins, founder and CEO of the Aspen-based American Renewable Energy Institute. “What we have to do is protect, to preserve our greatness.”

One of the ways to do that, he believes, is through good, old American ingenuity in the private sector and specifically in renewable energy.

The 14th annual American Renewable Energy Day Summit will attempt to show how that can be done. The four-day summit starts today at Snowmass Village’s Viceroy Hotel and features 165 speakers in 78 keynote addresses, armchair conversations and panel discussions.

As the summit winds down Thursday, a packed, three-day lineup of free community events cranks up. The American Renewable Energy Institute will team with Snowmass Village to present a free concert on Fanny Hill on Thursday evening by Brothers Keeper with John Popper.

AREDAY Films will be shown Friday and Saturday at the Snowmass Village Town Hall. One of the featured screenings is of “Chasing Coral,” a highly acclaimed film that documents how climate change is affecting coral reefs around the world.

The AREDAY Expo featuring sustainability booths on the Snowmass Village Mall will focus on community resiliency throughout Friday and Saturday. Also during the expo, there will be Community Conversations featuring various speakers on different topics.

Topping off the events will be an electric vehicle exhibit on the mall that features the best-in-class zero- and low-emissions vehicles. They will be available for test drives.

The summit’s overall theme is “Protecting America’s Greatness: The Business of Innovation, Climate Leadership and Resilient Communities.”

Offsetting climate change requires efforts on local, regional, national and global fronts, Comins said, “but at the end of the day it’s all local.”

“All energy is produced and consumed locally, no matter how many times we ship it around the world,” he said. So local communities have to become resilient enough to handle anything that develops. To him, that’s the key concept to protecting America’s greatness.

The AREDAY Summit kicks off today with presentations that include Bob Perkowitz from ecoAmerica speaking on “Keeping Hope Alive: Climate in the Trump Era, and How the Backward Slide can Take Us Forward.”

Tuesday will focus on national security and policy. Gen. Wesley Clark will moderate a panel on the “Impact of Renewable Energy on National Security Policy.”

The themes Wednesday will explore ways society can become 100 percent oriented on renewable energy by 2050. Sierra Club CEO Michael Brune will speak at an evening presentation with a focus on the Arctic. One of the speakers will be Keith Tuffley, who rode his bike to the South Pole last December.

Thursday’s themes will focus on water and energy as well as women’s leadership.

As the level of political partisan rancor escalates to new highs, the AREDAY Summit will look to a historically unifying figure to help spread its message. A character actor will evoke the spirit of President Theodore Roosevelt in a presentation called “Remarks and Observations on Life, Politics and Conversation.”

Comins said Roosevelt is being looked to for inspiration because he was such a “momentous and strong force at the turn of the century.” Although he was a Republican, he made such a mark as a conservationist. He created five national parks, 18 national monuments and paved the way for the creation of the U.S. Forest Service and 150 national forests. Both Republicans and Democrats honor his efforts today.

The Roosevelt performance will be Tuesday during lunch at the summit.

The full lineup and registration are available at

Locals’ passes for the four days of presentations at the summit are $250. Day passes are available for $250 per day for visitors. All events starting Thursday with the concert are free.

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