Eric Blank appointed to PUC

Blank has Yale law degree combined with entrepreneurial experience

DENVER – Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has appointed Eric Blank to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.

Eric Blank

“Eric has a deep understanding of Colorado’s energy system and will play an integral role at the PUC in advancing the market and consumer-driven transition to a cleaner, more affordable renewable energy future,” said Polis.

Blank has spent his career working in the renewable energy and non-profit sectors and is an entrepreneur and thought leader.

“Eric has a number of impressive qualifications for the position, in particular, his background in business and his legal experience would be assets to the PUC. We look forward to considering this well-qualified nominee when he comes before the Senate,” said Senate President Leroy Garcia.

“I’m honored to be chosen by Gov.  Polis for this position. Largely because of the leadership of Gov. Polis and the state legislature, I believe Colorado has a compelling opportunity to decarbonize energy systems and to do it in a way that benefits all customers and grows the economy,” said Blank.

Blank will serve as chair and his 4-year appointment is effective Jan. 11. The appointment is subject to Senate confirmation. He replaces Jeff Ackermann, who had a 4-year stint as chair of the PUC. Polis has rarely reappointed individuals originally appointed by his predecessor as governor, John Hickenlooper, to the PUC.

From 2009 to 2018, Blank was president and co-founder of Community Energy Solar. Among its projects was the solar farm adjacent to the Comanche Generating Station near Pueblo, the largest east of the Rocky Mountains at time of its construction. Before that he was executive vice president of Iberdrola Renewables, where he led U.S. wind development for two years.

He also has a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and has a law degree from Yale.

As chairman of the PUC, Blank has plenty of work ahead. Tri-State Generation & Transmission on Dec. 1 submitted its first electric resource plan to the PUC. It will be the first such plan considered by the PUC under the new carbon-constrained rules adopted by Colorado in 2019. Xcel Energy will file its electric resource plan next March.

Then there are issues about what role natural gas will play going forward in the built environment. In an interview with Big Pivots last summer for a story titled “The next energy frontier,” Blank talked about the need to curb natural gas in new buildings. “It’s just crazy to build 40,000 houses a year” with natural gas infrastructure in Colorado, he said.

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Allen Best