University obtains grant to fund energy initiative

Colorado Mesa University expects to use a $1.6 million grant to fund an initiative to promote energy research and development.

The Mesa County Federal Mineral Lease District Board of Directors voted to award the full allocation of funding it received from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to the university.

CMU applied for the grant to fund what it calls an unconventional energy epicenter center within its Redifer Research Institute. The university will use funding from the grant and other sources to pursue initiatives that:

Encourage the development of new and emerging energy technologies.

Spur innovation and job creation in the energy sector.

Analyze and subsequently develop recommendations for eliminating duplication and streamlining energy industry regulations at the local, state and federal levels.

Identify new markets for natural gas and promote natural gas consumption.

Develop infrastructure for compressed natural gas as a transportation fuel.

The proposed center as well as the grant are seen as ways to help achieve one of three major goals for a newly drafted economic development plan for Mesa County — establish an epicenter for energy research and development in the county.

Other goals involve supporting the growth of existing businesses and creating and promoting a community brand.

The establishment of an energy center and efforts to promote energy research and development at CMU were among the most popular proposals to come out of a public brainstorming session held in June to come up with ideas for achieving the first goal.

The Mesa County commissioners established the federal mineral lease district under state legislation enacted earlier this year. The districts distribute funding from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to areas affected by energy development.

The districts are set up to receive the funding in such a way they’re not subtracted from additional payments from the Department of the Interior made in lieu of property taxes on federal lands.