Yampa Valley Electric Association will begin mailing ballots Thursday for its annual board election.
Association members can vote for candidates in one of three districts up for election this year. Jim Chappell, YVEA manager of consumer accounts, said the only contested race is between District 9 incumbent Chuck Perry and challenger Russ Garrity.
Garrity, 52, a 20-year Oak Creek resident, earned an engineering degree from the University of Massachusetts in 1982 and has spent 30 years in the power business.
He works as director of business development for GP Strategies, an international engineering consulting firm. Garrity said his niche is coal-fired power plants.
His career has taken him from Craig Station to the first coal plants built in Malaysia and Morocco to the soon-to-be-largest coal-fired power plant in the world — the Medupi Station in South Africa.
It’s his international experience that Garrity is leaning on in his campaign for the YVEA Board.
“After 30 years in the business, I’m looking to get involved and give back to my community,” Garrity said. “I understand the power business and I think I can help the board make logical, forward-thinking decisions to help keep costs down, supplies up and increase our options for energy supply.”
While Garrity is looking to begin giving back to his community, Perry is looking for the opportunity to continue his service to association customers.
“Our national economy puts a lot of stress on local families, which are struggling to keep kids in school and food on the table,” Perry said. “I want to keep electricity for families as affordable as possible and we’ve been successful in doing that.”
Perry, 62, of Toponas, was first elected to the YVEA Board in 2006.
He serves as the board’s designated representative to the Colorado Rural Electric Association.
This is his second contested election in three campaigns.
A fifth-generation Routt County rancher, Perry said his platform is based on maintaining YVEA as the lowest residential power supplier among Colorado cooperatives, which contrary to popular opinion, means maintaining a robust coal-fired power generation portfolio.
“The reason I’m running is because there is a national movement to extinguish coal-fired generation and there are chapters all over America trying to take over these rural cooperatives,” Perry said. “Locally, there is an effort to draft candidates with the same philosophical zeal to take over a board that runs against the nature and the spirit in which the cooperative was formed.”
That effort, Perry believes, is spearheaded by a Steamboat Springs group that has an agenda to expand YVEA’s renewable energy portfolio.
“Regardless of what the (federal) government says, the green jobs are not there,” Perry said. “Wind and solar power will not replace coal-fired and nuclear-based generation. They are intermittent power sources and cannot stand alone in a free-market economy.”
Despite Perry’s views on green energy, he said the YVEA Board recently renegotiated its supply contract with Xcel to begin adding renewables such as solar gardens to YVEA’s portfolio.
The YVEA Board entails nine members representing association districts from State Bridge in Eagle County to Baggs in Carbon County, Wyo.
Almost all of Moffat and Routt counties are located within YVEA’s service area.
District board members are elected to three-year terms and elections take place annually on a three-district rotation.
Also up for election this year are the association’s District 1 and District 8 seats.
Peggy Espy, who currently sits on the board in District 1, is not seeking another term, Chappell said, and YVEA did not receive any candidate petitions.
In District 8, Scott McGill is running unopposed in his re-election bid and will be “deemed elected according to the rules and regulations of the association’s bylaws,” Chappell said.
The board will address the District 1 vacancy and announce results of the District 9 election during its annual meeting at 10 a.m. June 16 at the Hayden High School Auditorium, 495 W. Jefferson Ave.
Customers who plan to vote in the election must return their ballots to YVEA’s Steamboat Springs office, 32 10th St., by 5 p.m. June 15.
Ballots may be returned by mail or dropped off in person.
Craig and Moffat County customers may also return ballots in person at YVEA’s Craig location, 3715 E. U.S. Highway 40. Chappell recommends ballots be dropped off by June 14 to ensure they are couriered to the Steamboat Springs office before the deadline.
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