Karl Koehler: Bid for the YVEA board
June 14, 2013
To the editor:
As a candidate, I'd like to tell you why I'm interested in serving on the Yampa Valley Electric Association board and a little about the perspective I'll bring should the membership choose to elect me as the district 5 representative.
I've worked in the coal mining industry for 25 years; currently as the Safety Manager for Trapper Mine. I'm a staunch advocate for coal, coal miners, coal fired power and coal fired power generators. I've been actively involved in Hayden and the surrounding communities for years and have served on numerous boards, commissions, committees and councils. I think those who have worked with me will tell you I'm open-minded, fair, frank and honest. I strive to understand other's opinions and consider their merits, then formulate and express my own viewpoints.
I suspect most members of YVEA are like me, generally satisfied with the service their electric co-op provides. I've never been to an annual meeting and have frankly taken for granted that the YVEA board is populated with good people making good decisions for the collective benefit of the membership. But over the years, my assumptions in this regard have been tempered, as I've became increasingly aware of the influence special interest groups can exert as they grow more adept at insinuating their agendas into grassroots level decision making bodies such as the YVEA board.
As I reviewed the YVEA bylaws and available board meeting minutes to familiarize myself with the recent activities and responsibilities of the board, I was surprised to find that at nearly every meeting, advocates for renewable energy were there to lobby the board for special considerations supportive of their causes. I think there is an alternative voice — quite possibly the majority — that may not be as well represented. And so I've decided to give the YVEA membership the opportunity to have such a voice actively engaged with the board on a regular basis.
During the past year or so, the board has developed plans to establish a community solar garden. If elected, I'll press the proponents of this project to explain to the membership the specific benefits they anticipate seeing as a result. I'll be an advocate for using the endeavor as a case study to transparently track and publicize the actual costs and returns. YVEA members are free to make whatever energy supply decisions they deem appropriate, but I think they should be equipped with clearly represented facts upon which to base those decisions. I'll argue for publicizing the project's results with distortions such as the state legislature's misleading 3/1 accounting ratio for solar generation sources factored out of the discussion. And I'll encourage the board to maintain focus on the primary aim of YVEA; making energy available to its members at the lowest cost consistent with sound economy and good management.
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If you agree with these perspectives, I'd appreciate your support. Please consider attending the Annual Meeting to let your voice be heard.