Yampa Valley Electric Association hosted its annual meeting Saturday inside the auditorium at Moffat County High School. Larry Covillo, YVEA president and general manager, encouraged state constituents to contact senators and representatives about three facets of electrical energy resources: affordability, availability and reliability.

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Yampa Valley Electric Association hosted its annual meeting Saturday inside the auditorium at Moffat County High School. Larry Covillo, YVEA president and general manager, encouraged state constituents to contact senators and representatives about three facets of electrical energy resources: affordability, availability and reliability.

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— Affordability, availability and reliability.

Larry Covillo, Yampa Valley Electric Association president and general manager, encouraged Colorado constituents to contact senators and representatives about these three facets of electrical energy resources.

Covillo's words were part of YVEA's annual meeting that took place Saturday in the Moffat County High School auditorium.

Covillo, along with his fellow board members, conducted a panel to explain the status of the consumer-owned cooperative that serves Craig, Hayden, Steamboat Springs, Yampa, Baggs, Wyo., and a portion of Carbon County, Wyo.

About 60 residents of these towns were in attendance, representing businesses, themselves as homeowners, or both.

During his speech, Covillo acknowledged that "the price of natural gas is going crazy," and discussed how those costs have affected YVEA and its consumers in the past year. Citing figures such as an 8.23 percent increase in operating expenses (less wholesale power) and 4 percent increase in kilowatt-hour sales, Covillo explained to the crowd that YVEA has done its best to absorb costs without raising rates.

Covillo commended the 5.5 percent of the region's population that employs renewable resources without a mandate. Such resources include solar panels, which are effective in conserving energy.

Frank "Pud" Stetson, chairman of the YVEA board of directors, spoke about the organization's efforts to do its part to adhere to the Kyoto Protocol, which came into effect in 2005, and focuses on reducing greenhouse gases to prevent climate change. YVEA has been working with wholesaler Xcel Energy in encouraging the use of renewable resources.

Energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs were handed out to audience members as part of the YVEA's initiative to cut down on unnecessary power expenditures. According to Stetson, the business will have to increase future power output by 50 percent to keep up with demands.

"We don't like the fact that future prices will be cost-prohibitive," he said.

Audience member Cyme Browning does not like it, either. Attending the meeting as a concerned citizen, parent, homeowner and owner of Craig business Chaos Ink, Browning claimed her fears about escalating electric bills were confirmed.

"We're really digging ourselves into a hole," she said. "The economic consequences are so bad, I don't know how we'll ever come back. It really frightens me."

People in attendance had the opportunity to voice their concerns verbally and through a voting process for new chair members.

Jim Simos, of YVEA's third district, and Stetson were up for re-election but unopposed. Incumbent Bill Haight, of district six, ran against renewable energy advocate Susan Holland, of Steamboat Springs.

Both candidates gave brief speeches, and audience members added their votes to the total mailed in by YVEA consumers before the meeting. Haight won by a margin of about 300 votes.

The meeting concluded with a raffle of door prizes, and relocated to the Moffat County Fairgrounds, where YVEA hosted an afternoon barbecue.

Covillo was pleased with the level of involvement.

"The turnout was a little larger than we're used to," he said. "We appreciate the Craig Centennial Committee's invitation for us to come here."

Covillo also encourages audience members, and anyone else, to contact America's Electric Cooperatives for information on new kinds of resources. Cards were handed out to send to the organization.

"Carbon issues will be more of a hot topic after the presidential election is over," he said. "I hope that people use the cards we gave out to avail themselves to opportunity."

Andy Bockelman can be reached at 875-1796.

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