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‘Grateful to use decades of experience to serve’

David Luschen

My 26 years of utility experience and drive to give back to my community led me to run for La Plata Electric Association’s board of directors. If elected, I will prioritize affordable, reliable, sustainable energy.

The LPEA board plays an important role in our community. It develops LPEA’s strategic plan, navigates complex business and utility decisions, and is responsible for evaluating the chief executive officer. To succeed, each director must have a deep understanding of our multifaceted electric grid.

As an LPEA director, I would be a fiduciary for you. My top duties would be: review rates, evaluate contracts and authorize eminent domain proceedings. I have decades of experience in these duties. With my electric utility experience, specifically in the “wires” side of the business, I know the technical, financial and member service ins and outs of electric utilities. I will use my real-life experience to support our LPEA mission.

Today, our hands are tied with the Tri-State contract. We are bound to Tri-State to provide LPEA with 95% of our power needs until 2050. This means that $0.62 of every LPEA dollar, over $60 million annually, goes to out of our community to Tri-State. Additionally, as we have all felt, Tri-State’s prices are up. Over the last 20 years, Tri-State doubled the price of electricity and this price is expected to increase 8% next year. LPEA has worked tirelessly to mitigate costs, but little can be done in Tri-State’s restrictive contract. Tri-State’s continual coal investment has also led it to financial insecurity and a negative credit rating, with members of Tri-State leaving their contracts at a higher rate than ever before.

How does LPEA resolve this? It is pursuing three options:

• Staying with Tri-State and working to increase contract flexibility.

• Partially exiting Tri-State, with Tri-State providing a smaller percentage of electricity.

• Fully exiting the Tri-State contract.

This summer, LPEA will get the final cost of a Tri-State contract buyout, and do a cost analysis of all three options to determine which maintains our affordable rates. I support this, with my preference for a full exit to allow us to have local control over a reliable, sustainable and affordable power supply.

An example of this would be sustainable solar farms. Local solar would keep that $60 million a year in our community. The sun is an abundant fuel source with a fixed fuel cost, unlike coal, natural gas and oil, which Tri-State still prioritizes in its generation. Fossil fuel costs are subject to international supply and demand pressures that we can avoid. This is key to maintain LPEA’s affordability. Would you rather rent a house and be subject to the landlord’s rent increases or own your home and know your fixed mortgage rate for 30 years?

Critical decisions must be made in the near future for our member-owned electric cooperative, and I would be grateful to use my decades of experience to serve LPEA as a board director.

David Luschen, who holds a PE and an MBA, is a candidate for LPEA board of directors District 4.