Two new board members elected to YVEA co-op
Two fresh faces will join the nine-member Yampa Valley Electric Association board of directors in late July following election results announced during the annual meeting of the co-op on Tuesday, June 28, in Craig.
Steamboat Springs small-business owner and building energy consultant Dan LeBlanc won the board seat for District 7 that covers the city of Steamboat Springs edging out Ed MacArthur, owner of Native Excavating. LeBlanc won by a member vote of 1,184 to 1,005 to replace outgoing board member Sonja Macys, who is focusing on her run for Routt County Commissioner.
LeBlanc said he spent the last month meeting and talking with many YVEA members to learn their thoughts about the member-owned, nonprofit electric co-op.
“It was great to see how much pride there is in the co-op,” LeBlanc said.
Craig resident Steven Booker, 51, a Moffat County Sheriff’s Deputy who has worked at the county jail since 2006, ran unopposed for the District 4 board seat that covers southern Moffat County. The seat is being vacated by Dean Brosious who served on the board since 2004.
Hayden resident Patrick Delaney ran unopposed and was re-elected to retain his board seat for District 5 covering Hayden.
Two proposed amendments were passed by the members. Bylaw Amendment 22-01 passed with a vote of 1,414 to 513 to follow a Colorado requirement that essentially gives interested YVEA board candidates 15 additional days in the application timeline. Bylaw Amendment 22-02 passed by a member vote of 1,299 to 628 to allow the YVEA board to change all bylaws in the future without a membership vote through utilizing a 30-day public notice process.
Inside the clean and patriotically decorated vehicle storage bay at the YVEA offices in Craig, the annual meeting also celebrated the 80th anniversary of the co-op. The first YVEA electric line was energized on Dec. 6, 1941, and now the co-op serves about 27,700 meters.
“We were against renewable energy, and we were the co-op that had the reputation of saying no,” Brosious said. “Whatever you asked us to do, we just said no.”
“We were running what I considered to be a 1955 co-op, and we desperately needed to do a lot of infrastructure improvements, which we’re still doing, and get on with the program,” Brosious continued. “You should be assured that we now have probably the most talented management team that I’ve ever seen.”
YVEA President and General Manager Steve Johnson said struggles related to the COVID-19 pandemic and inflated power costs were tough on the co-op in 2020 and 2021 and spurred continued changes in business strategies.
“We transitioned as a company because we have to,” Johnson said. “We changed the mentality of playing really good defense to putting a playbook together so that we could play really great offense and creating a playbook of business strategies and putting the cooperative in a position where we could react the best possible way that we could to move forward across this ever-changing landscape.”
“From the standpoint of power delivery, it’s not if or when carbon reduction is going to happen, we are in the middle of it today,” the general manager said.
YVEA leaders say some of those business strategy changes include creating the Luminate broadband subsidiary, purchasing a fleet of electric vehicles and promoting member purchases of electric vehicles, establishing a beneficial electrification department, and creating new rebates for home EV charging stations, electric bicycles, lawn maintenance equipment and snowblowers. Johnson said electricity use for the increasing number of electric vehicles represents the largest growth opportunity for the co-op for the next 10 years.
During a member comment section, Johnson fielded a number of questions, ranging from the proportion of fees for YVEA system access costs, to how past winter storms and the associated increase in demand for natural gas in the southern U.S. will continue to effect YVEA bills. Power cost adjustments were added to YVEA customer bills during eight months in 2021 and again in March, April and May 2022.
“How long are we going to be burdened with that charge?” Craig resident Ruth Greenwood asked.
Craig retiree Jayne Morley, who previously worked as a financial coordinator for Tri-State power plant in Craig, asked the co-op leadership to consider contracting with a different wholesale power supplier.
Johnson said YVEA currently has a long-term contract with Xcel to purchase power through 2042 to gain price stability. He noted the current inflationary market does not indicate the best time for a supplier switch but that co-op leaders are evaluating market options.
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