Concerns over Craig customer service location addressed by YVEA board | CraigDailyPress.com

Concerns over Craig customer service location addressed by YVEA board

Members elect new board director Jean Stetson to represent Craig

Lauren Blair

Yampa Valley Electric Association General Manager and President Diane Johnson addresses members at the annual meeting held Thursday afternoon in Steamboat Springs.

What to do about a customer service location in Craig was one of a few issues addressed Thursday at Yampa Valley Electric Association's annual meeting, held at the new headquarters in Steamboat Springs.

A new board director was also elected, with Craig resident Jean Stetson winning the seat of incumbent Mike Brinks for District 3 representing the City of Craig. Former Moffat County Commissioner John Kinkaid also ran for the contested seat.

Directors Larry Ellgen, of Moffat County, and Tom Fox, of Routt County, ran uncontested and retained their seats.

Craig and Moffat County residents recently have expressed dissatisfaction at the lack of a physical customer service location or representative in Craig. YVEA closed its building east of Craig for customer services in November 2015, and temporarily held an office at Yampa Valley Bank until April 2017.

"A lot of people like to go sign up, do their connects, their disconnects — they like to do that in person," said Moffat County resident Burt Clements at a YVEA community meeting in early June. "They just don't have a sense of security to try to do it by machine, or by calling Steamboat. They want to go in and talk to someone."

Clements also noted that some older residents especially felt the loss.

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"When (the location) left, it felt like we don't count anymore," he said. "For some of them, that was their thing to do, they drove out there, paid their bill… It hit people pretty hard, like a vacancy in their life, like something was taken away. "

YVEA officials cited safety issues at the company's building just east of Craig — namely, that customers had acted aggressively toward a lone service representative on several occasions. The bank location turned out not to be compatible for the bank and other tenants in the building, either.

Cost and efficiency are also part of the considerations.

"That same community is saying I don't like it when I have a rate increase," said General Manager and President Diane Johnson in an interview with the Daily Press. "And that's a challenge because I'm tasked with doing more with less, and some of the old ways are more expensive, including staffing and managing a building."

YVEA members can currently pay their bills or submit connect or disconnect forms at City Market in Craig, but Johnson promised that they're exploring possible solutions.

Dean Brosious, chairman of the board of directors, answered the concerns with a plan and a timeline at the annual meeting. A board subcommittee — made up of directors from Moffat County and Baggs, Wyoming — was formed to make recommendations to management as to how to address customer service in Craig, and management will reply with options.

"We expect to have a decision made within 90 days," Brosious said.

He added that YVEA has $810,000 in its budget for upgrades and repairs to the Craig building, and they would determine how to spend that money after deciding the best solution for providing customer service to Moffat County and Wyoming members.