This week, a ballot for Yampa Valley Electric Association’s board-member election will be arriving in your mailbox. This is your chance to make a difference in our community, and your vote is more important than ever. Last year, only 12.5 percent of YVEA’s meter holders cast their votes, so only a few more on either side could decide this year’s election.
YVEA’s energy policies have worked well in the past, but they desperately need updating to keep pace with the times and with our community’s evolving priorities. This year, progressive board candidates are running who could help us catch up to other member-owned electric cooperatives in Colorado and help lead our community toward a more economically resilient and environmentally sustainable future.
Currently YVEA’s mission is narrowly defined to provide energy to its customers at the lowest price possible, and it purchases almost 100 percent of this power from Xcel Energy. While our electricity is fairly cheap right now, by relying exclusively on Xcel for our power, our community is exposed to future price volatility for oil, gas and coal, due to the increasing cost of extracting these dwindling resources. Indeed, YVEA is already negotiating an increase in energy prices with Xcel, which is a preview of what we can expect in the future. It’s time for a change.
In Routt County alone, our community spent more than $35 million on electricity last year. Instead of sending much of that money to a corporation from Minnesota, we should invest in local generation projects that would provide much needed economic stimulus and insulation from future price fluctuations in fossil-fuel electricity generation. Other Colorado utilities are already getting more than 20 percent of their power from such local projects, and their electricity rates are lower than ours. It’s time to catch up.
We need to think about how we can assert a new direction for our utility that will take into consideration where we get our electricity in the future. The world is changing fast, and we have the opportunity to make choices today that will lead to a more economically prosperous and environmentally friendly future. The next 20 years will probably be quite different from the last 20 years, and we would be wise to be prepared — for our children’s sake as well as our own.When you get your ballot, read the information about the candidates. Then cast your vote. It takes only a minute. Don’t postpone it. Exercise your right to make their board your board. Let’s energize now!
And please be aware that in order for your vote to be valid, your ballot must be signed by the person whose name appears on your YVEA bill.
Tim McCarthy and Paul Potyen