Our View: Power to the people

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Editorial Board, May 2008 to August 2008

  • Bryna Larsen, publisher
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Mike Lawrence, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Eric Morris, community representative
  • Paul Draper, community representative

Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or editor@steamboatpilot.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

At issue

YVEA board of directors election

Our view

We're encouraged by the contested elections and hope co-op members fill out their ballots.

— It's not every election cycle when we see multiple contested races for Yampa Valley Electric Association's board of directors. And who can blame apathetic members of our regional electric co-op? Serving on the YVEA board is about as thankless and unrecognized as civic service can be.

As YVEA consumers and co-op members, we therefore should be encouraged to see two contested races for the June 20 election. We hope the races elicit debate and discussion about our electric co-op and its future, particularly as it relates to renewable energy.

Susan Holland and Megan Moore-Kemp have combined their campaigns and are running on a platform promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency. Both run businesses that promote sustainability, and they're pushing for YVEA to consider conservation programs and long-term planning for future energy sources. Both contend that YVEA is deficient in those areas.

Holland is challenging Steamboat Springs attorney Scott McGill, who represents YVEA's District 8. In responding to Holland's vision for change from our electric co-op, McGill said it was "naive to think we can change a lot of our way of doing business." McGill also said YVEA is one of the greenest co-ops in the state, meeting or exceeding every law pertaining to the use of renewable energy sources.

We question whether the state threshold should be the number to aim for. Shouldn't the goal be a dedication to providing renewable energy proportional to the desire - and willingness to pay - of co-op members? To that end, McGill may have the numbers on his side.

According to a 2009 YVEA member survey, less than 10 percent of residential YVEA customers are enrolled in a renewable energy program. Of those not enrolled, 62 percent said it was because they don't know enough about it. Twenty-five percent said it was too expensive, and 2 percent said they don't support renewable power.

Most respondents - 78 percent - also indicated a preference for using the lowest cost energy sources rather than spending more to increase the production of renewable energy sources. Ninety-three percent said they would not support a rate increase to fund renewable energy rebates.

The YVEA board has long been considered to be an "old boys club," an issue McGill was vocal about during his successful 2006 run to unseat 18-year YVEA board veteran Irlan Neas. That same year, Charles Perry ran unopposed for the seat vacated by 27-year board veteran Mary Jean Perry.

It's encouraging to see renewed interest in serving on the YVEA board, and while we don't have any dogs in the fight, we hope the incumbents and challengers spend the next five weeks taking an active approach to spreading their message. More important, we hope YVEA members fill out the ballot that comes in their mailbox and send it back before the June 20 annual meeting. In most election years, only a small percentage of YVEA customers take the time to vote.

YVEA General Manager Larry Covillo has long said his job is to carry out the desire of the co-op's membership. Until that membership takes an active role in their rural electric provider, there's no reason to think - or expect - a change in direction.

Comments

Fred Duckels 5 years, 4 months ago

Avtivism at this level is akin to slashing tires on a logging truck to prevent logging. The truck operator probably has a family to feed and truck payments to meet. This activism belongs further up the energy chain, and not locally to force participation without regard to the consequences.

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