YVEA's Neas beats McGill

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In the only contested race for the Yampa Valley Electric Association Board of Directors, incumbent Irlan Neas defeated Scott McGill for the District 8 position representing southern Steamboat Springs. Neas won by a vote of 1141-1012.

The elections were part of YVEA's annual meeting, held Saturday at Hayden High School

Tom Trevenen was elected as this year's chairman of the Yampa Valley Electric Association Board of Directors and Pat McClelland was elected vice chairman. Larry Covillo, David Williams and Cathy Uttech were reelected for the general manager, treasurer and secretary positions, respectively.

Trevenen lives in Craig and represents District 4, which includes Elk Springs and parts of Craig. He will replace Neas, who formerly served as board chairman.

Pat McClelland is from District 7, representing Steamboat Springs, and will replace Trevenen.

There were three district directors' seats up for election at the meeting. The board members are elected for three-year staggered terms.

Darwin Dunn, from YVEA's District 1 that includes Baggs and Savery, Wyo., and Mary Jean Perry, from District 9 that includes Yampa, Toponas and Bond, were reelected uncontested.

During the meeting, YVEA President and General Manager Covillo discussed YVEA's troubles with its electric provider, Xcel Energy.

"We are not happy with the fuel adjustment," Covillo said of a change that took place last year.

Covillo said a clause in their contract with Xcel states that YVEA should only be paying for fuel costs, not the operational costs of Xcel power plants. Covillo said it appears that Xcel has overcharged YVEA.

"We believe they have been including the cost of maintenance and operation of the power plants," Covillo said.

YVEA will present its complaint at a hearing before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Aug. 18 in Washington, D.C. If successful, YVEA could receive $1 million in refunds from Xcel.

Covillo said Xcel has announced that YVEA will receive a 4.64-percent rate increase beginning in August. YVEA will appeal this increase.

Covillo said he had bad news about YVEA's progress in high-speed Internet distribution.

YVEA had partnered with three other electric cooperatives and High Speed Communications to help establish high-speed Internet service throughout rural areas of Colorado.

But Covillo said a downturn in the stock market, specifically in telecommunications, has forced YVEA to delay the work indefinitely.

"We're not communication people, we're power people," he said.

Nevertheless, Covillo remained optimistic about YVEA's performance in 2002.

Treasurer Williams said YVEA's 2002 profits of $5.5 million heavily outweighed the 2001 profits of $2.9 million.

YVEA's average outage minutes for 2002 were 7.82 minutes per customer per month. Covillo said this was well below the national average of 20 minutes.

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-- To reach Erin Ragan call 871-4232

or e-mail intern@steamboatpilot.com

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