LPEA challengers have focus, expertise

The LPEA election is in full swing. I have noticed two themes in favor of maintaining the board’s status quo:

Keep incumbents on the board to keep our utility rates low.

Beware of the “single-issue focus” of the new candidates.

I suggest that continuing to depend on traditional energy sources does not save us money in the short or long-term. Sun-drenched, geothermal-rich, windy La Plata County can be a leader in the renewable energy market. Diversified energy sources will boost our economy and broaden our approach to creating jobs. Do those who consider our utility rates “low,” take into consideration the health effects of living so close to the one of the dirtiest coal-fired power plants in the country? In my Animas City neighborhood, I know nearly a dozen people affected by cancer in the last eight years. Convince me this is not related to environmental pollutants.

The LPEA challengers can hardly be called “single-focus.”

Britt Bassett is a La Plata County native, a nuclear engineer who has worked at Los Alamos Laboratory, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Lab, and he is a solar designer.

Heather Erb has lived in La Plata County for 13 years, has been president of the Durango Association of Realtors, was instrumental in getting the “green feature initiative” into the Southwest Colorado MLS listings, and went to the European Union to study the economic benefits of renewable energy.

Kirsten Skeehan, a Pagosa Springs business owner, has an MBA from George Washington University, was in the Navy, is a Rotarian, chairwoman of the Archuleta County Housing Authority and a volunteer with the American Cancer Society.

Bruce Baizel is a lawyer, a rancher and is nationally known for his work on energy policy, including coal, natural gas and renewable energy. His family’s ranch generates one-third of its energy from wind and solar.

These candidates possess an amazing depth and breadth of experience and interests. They represent a great opportunity to help our cooperative step into the 21st century. It’s up to all members to vote.

Mary Oswald