New Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has tapped wind energy executive Tanuj “T.J.” Deora to head the Governor’s Energy Office (GEO). Deora replaces a former state legislator, Tom Plant.

Deora formerly headed up state and regional policy advocacy efforts for Houston-based Horizon Wind Energy, and in that capacity had focused on promoting an investment-friendly landscape for renewable energy. As head of the GEO, he will be doing some of the same things on behalf of Hickenlooper’s new administration.

Like many states, Colorado is in the middle of efforts to address climate change issues focused on changing out an aging fleet of coal-fired generation plants with new natural gas and renewable-based facilities (see Daily GPI, April 20, 2010). Under the Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act (HB 1365) the state’s largest investor-owned utility, Xcel Energy, is replacing 900 MW of coal-fired capacity with natural gas and alternative fuels.

Coming from the wind industry, Deora is viewed favorably by environmental groups in the state, according to local news reports.

Before joining Horizon, Deora was a consultant with McKinsey & Co.’s energy practice in Washington, DC. Earlier he worked for Calpine Corp. and also was an engineer with Dow Chemical Co. Deora holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Texas and an MBA from Harvard.

Hickenlooper is a former geologist on Colorado’s Western Slope who was laid off once during a bust cycle in 1980s. He later became a successful restaurant operator and eventually mayor of Denver.

After being selected, Deora said he looked at Colorado’s recent development as being closely tied to the energy and clean tech sectors. He said he was looking forward to helping the state expand its “leadership role” in energy by “leveraging our strong human and natural resources.” The end point is creating more new jobs, he said.

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