Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Natual Science and Mathematics

First Advisor

Andrew R. Goetz, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Eric Boschmann

Third Advisor

Paul Sutton

Fourth Advisor

Don Sullivan

Fifth Advisor

Frank Laird


Electricity, Energy, Policy, Utilities, Venture capital


A consensus on climate change is spurring an energy transition, but the geography of this transition is uneven and this paper evaluates the energy landscape globally, in the United States and in Colorado. Developed countries have taken the lead in installations and of next generation energy technology ownership. Green electricity has still not achieved parity with fossil fuels, which puts their adoption in the hands of policy makers who are trying to spur innovation with minimal financial disruption. Yet the future of green electricity is in question due to weak and fragmented policy regimes, but also because of inadequate R&D levels. Wind is maturing with large global players and a settling of technology, but solar is marked by scattered manufacturing and fluctuating technology platforms. Within the United States, venture capital (VC) is playing an active role for the cleantech sector; cleantech encompasses broad themes of sustainability to include electricity as well as materials, buildings, water, energy software, and recycling. Cleantech is among the leading economic sectors securing the most VC money and the future geographic landscape is likely to feature California and Massachusetts, who lead as the top destinations of cleantech VC money, but other pockets of innovation are clear. Finally, while large urban utilities are prepared to transition away from fossil fuels, smaller cities and rural areas, for various financial and scale issues are disadvantaged with incorporating more green energy into their electricity mix. This was evident by the results of Colorado's Amendment 37, which created a statewide RPS and passed with strong support in the Denver metro area, but limited support in the rest of the state. Nevertheless, all utilities must now diversify and this study surveyed the managers at the state's rural utilities to gauge their attitudes concerning: carbon legislation, conservation and efficiency programs, and their plans for making the electricity transition. Nearly all of the utilities are making progress, but there is broad apprehension and distrust about mandates and the impacts on their communities.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Sean Tierney


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

289 p.