Think an electric co-op election is boring?
Not this year. With three seats up for election on the La Plata Electric Association, there have been many letters to the editor printed in support - and opposing - both new candidates and incumbents on the board.
In District 3, which is essentially the City of Durango, incumbent Jeff Berman has been challenged by new candidate Bill Waters. District 3 includes approximately 7,500 eligible voters.
New candidate Alison Dance is running against incumbent Joe Wheeling in District 4. More than 7,700 eligible voters are in District 4, which covers north and east La Plata County, including part of Bayfield.
The approximately 7,800 LPEA members in Archuleta County - District 1 - will elect a representative to the board from a field of two: incumbent Ken Fox and new candidate Bob Lynch.
This year in District 2 (south and west La Plata County), incumbent director Davin Montoya was the only nominee, so that election was cancelled and Montoya retains his seat.
LPEA director election ballots were mailed to cooperative members on May 1 and must be returned by 4 p.m., Wednesday to FredrickZink & Associates in Durango. The accounting firm tallies the ballots utilizing La Plata County's official ballot counting equipment. If not submitting ballots by mail, members can vote at the annual meeting prior to 6:30 p.m.
LPEA board members receive $200 for each full-day meeting they attend, or $125 for a half day. That also includes committee meetings and meetings for groups such as Tri-State, the co-op's electric supplier, and the Colorado Rural Electric Association.
The co-op also covers out-of-town travel for meetings and provides $1,000 per month for health insurance, as well as a small life-insurance policy.
The board is trying a new time for the co-op meeting this year, this Thursday night instead of the usual Saturday meeting. Montoya, the board's president, said the board and staff wanted to see if a weeknight might attract more members than a weekend meeting, but said they would appreciate member feedback on the issue.
The meeting is free and open to all LPEA members in-good-standing. Registration begins at 5 p.m. at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College, with the business meeting starting at 6:30 p.m. A reception during the registration period will feature hors d'oeuvres catered by Kennebec Café and the music of Tim Sullivan and his band Narrow Gauge.
"During the business meeting we will share important information about your cooperative, as well as report on the company's financial performance over the last year and discuss the challenges of providing reliable power at the lowest reasonable cost, while remaining environmentally responsible," Montoya stated in a company press release.
In special celebration of its 75th Anniversary, LPEA will welcome Ted Case, the author of the book Power Plays, as keynote speaker.
"In the 1930s, only one farm in 10 had electricity before President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Rural Electrification Administration to bring rural America out of the darkness," CEO Greg Munro, said in the release, noting that FDR's partners were the nation's electric cooperatives, including LPEA. "Power Plays explores the defining moments in the relationship between electric co-ops and the U.S. presidents throughout the decades. It's a very interesting book, and Ted is a compelling speaker, so I am looking forward to his presentation."
Case is currently executive director of the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association, a position he has held since 2009.
Additionally, comments will be presented at the annual meeting by Kent Singer, executive director of the Colorado Rural Electric Association (CREA), the trade association supporting the rural electric cooperatives in Colorado, and Mike McInnes, interim executive vice president/general manager of Tri-State Generation and Transmission, LPEA's primary power supplier. The membership will also have an opportunity ask questions of the board members.
LPEA members who register at the meeting will receive a $5 credit on their electric bill and a chance to win several door prizes. The Community Concert Hall is at 1000 Rim Drive. Volunteer parking attendants will direct members to the most convenient parking and golf carts will be available to assist those who have difficulty walking.