Yampa Valley Electric Association announces leadership change
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — After implementing a flurry of upgrades and changes, Yampa Valley Electric Association CEO Diane Johnson is ready for someone else to take charge.
“After five years of doing the job of CEO, I feel like it was time for a change for me,” Johnson said. “I loved it. I loved Steamboat, in particular. I enjoyed the community, and I enjoyed the job.”
The member-owned cooperative serves a 7,000-square mile area with nearly 26,300 electricity meters and more than 2,840 miles of power line. The organization has more than 60 employees and buys its power from the Western Area Power Administration and Xcel Energy.
Johnson had told the YVEA board in February she did not intend to renew her contract at the end of September.
“As sometimes happens in these situations, it’s been decided that my last working day will be today,” Johnson wrote in an email Friday.
On Monday, YVEA announced it was promoting from within. Operations Manager Steve Johnson, who is not related to Diane Johnson, has accepted the position of president and general manager.
The announcement was made Monday morning during an all-staff meeting.
“I am excited to take on this new leadership role with a great organization,” Steve Johnson said in a news release. “I’ve had the opportunity over the last four years to work with everyone here, and I look forward to continue working with this great board and staff as we serve our members.”
YVEA saw significant changes under Diane Johnson’s leadership.
“The list of accomplishments by Diane are enormous,” said board member Russ Garrity, who lives in Oak Creek. “Going forward, I hope we will all reap the benefits for the foundation she laid for us.”
Among the changes was the switch to advanced metering infrastructure, which allows YVEA to remotely monitor and regulate energy consumption.
“In the old days, if you had an outage, you had to wait for people to call in,” Garrity said. “Today, we monitor every meter, and we know.”
Garrity said Diane Johnson helped YVEA work through challenges.
“We fought forest fires and brush fires in Craig,” Garrity said. “We divested a bunch of businesses we should not have gotten into 20 years ago.”
YVEA also profited from the sale of real estate, and last week, the association officially opened its new headquarters in Steamboat.
Some members and former YVEA employees were critical of YVEA’s decision to purchase the former TIC campus for $9.7 million, then remodel it at a cost of more than $8 million.
“It’s a lot less than building from scratch,” Garrity said.
With all the changes that have occurred, Garrity said it made sense to the board when Diane Johnson told them it was time for someone else to take over.
“It sounded very logical to me when she told us,” Garrity said.
Garrity said he attended Monday’s staff meeting, and he believed employees were excited about the future.
“Change is always a challenge for people, but I think we have the right team,” Garrity said. “We have the right people. We have good plans. The future is bright.”
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.
Tri-State Generation & Transmission unveiled its new Responsible Energy Plan this week, which will transition the company’s power portfolio further into renewables to reduce electric rates for its members.