For many, flipping a light switch is a common occurrence. Flip a switch, and a light turns on almost instantaneously. This month we’re taking a look at some of the issues that enable that lightbulb to power on, or enable cars and buses to take you from point A to point B. Today, we’re talking energy.

You can listen to the full episode, or download it here:

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You can also head to the individual segments for the audio, full conversations, and visuals:

Roundtable Discussion: The COGCC and GEO
The Fracking Debate in Washington
The New Steam
Woody Biomass at Colorado Springs Utilities
Transmission Line Proposal Generates Controversy
Historical Perspective: Nikola Tesla

Western Skies is a collaboration between KRCC News and the Big Something.


Roundtable Discussion: The COGCC and GEO

This month, KRCC’s Andrea Chalfin speaks with Dave Neslin, who heads the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, or COGCC. Also we’ll hear from TJ Deora, who heads the Governor’s Energy Office. We open the conversation with Dave Neslin briefly explaining what the COGCC does.

Listen here, or download:

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Here’s the full conversation, also available for download (about 1 hr, 8 minutes):

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In the conversation, Dave Neslin responds to the movie Gasland, saying the film contains some inaccuracies. We attempted to talk to filmmaker Josh Fox, but he was unavailable for an interview.


The Fracking Debate in Washington

In Congress, the drilling debate is moving from oil rigs in water to hydraulic fracturing on land, including here in Colorado. It’s a process commonly called fracking that some fear contaminates drinking water. Patrick Terpstra has a look at the debate from Washington.

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In the full, unedited roundtable discussion above, Dave Neslin of the COGCC mentions FracFocus, which is a chemical disclosure website.


The New Steam

Alternative energy doesn’t just refer to wind and solar power. One inventor just north of Colorado Springs is exploring ways to reduce our dependence on oil. Craig Richardson visited the workshop of one man who’s actually looking to the past while working toward the future.

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You can also download the piece here, or visit Eckert’s website.


Woody Biomass at Colorado Springs Utilities

Colorado Springs Utilities is researching the use of woody biomass to supplement coal in energy production. Terry Meikle heads the woody biomass project for the utility. KRCC’s Daniel Edwards and Andrea Chalfin took a tour of the Drake power plant in downtown Colorado Springs to hear about the project. Daniel has this audio postcard of the journey.

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Transmission Line Proposal Generates Controversy

A frustrated coalition of landowners and residents in southern Colorado is opposing a plan for a new transmission line in the San Luis and Cucharra Valleys. Known as the Southern Colorado Transmission Improvement Project, it would string nearly 150 miles of new power lines from an existing substation north of Alamosa up to Pueblo. KRCC’s Andrea Chalfin reports.

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You can read more about the project at its website: Southern Colorado Transmission Improvement Project
Trinchera Ranch also has its own website related to the project: Smart Valley Energy


Historical Perspective: Nikola Tesla

In 1899, the great inventor NIkola Tesla moved to Colorado Springs and set up a laboratory to conduct experiments in wireless telegraphy and atmospheric electricity, among many other things. Local author and historian Richard Marold portrays Tesla in this visit from the past.

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