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LPEA election results favor incumbents

1 newcomer, Ted Compton, will represent Durango
Members of La Plata Electric Association returned three incumbents to the co-op’s board of directors in 2021 election results announced Thursday. Ted Compton was elected to represent Durango on the board. Compton will replace retiring LPEA Board President Britt Bassett.

Three incumbents were re-elected this week to the La Plata Electric Association board of directors, and Ted Compton claimed the one open seat to represent Durango on the panel that guides the 35,000-plus member cooperative.

  • In District 1, Archuleta County, incumbent candidate Kirsten Skeehan defeated Veronica Medina on a 1,281 to 434 count.
  • In District 2, south and west La Plata County, incumbent Kohler McInnis bested Mark Walser 1,333 to 792.
  • In District 3, the city of Durango, Compton was elected to fill the seat of Britt Bassett, the retiring board president. Compton defeated Bill Waters 1,646 to 722.
  • In District 4, representing north and east La Plata County, incumbent Tim Wheeler defeated John Purser, 1,282 to 799.

Results of the 2021 LPEA director election were announced Thursday night at a virtual partial annual meeting, which was held solely to announce the winners.

The main annual meeting will be held July 21 in the board room of LPEA’s Durango office, 45 Stewart St.

LPEA elects one board director from each of its four districts annually.

Members also approved two bylaw amendments that aim to modernize LPEA bylaws to conform with Colorado law on virtual meetings.

Out of 35,089 ballots mailed in all districts, 8,473 LPEA members cast votes, a 24% turnout. That is a decrease from the 29.7% return rate in the 2020 election.

“We want to thank our members for taking the time and energy to vote for their LPEA director,” LPEA CEO Jessica Matlock said in a news release.

She added: “As a cooperative, we are owned by our members and depend on their involvement to ensure we serve our community effectively. I hope in future years we can convince more of our membership to vote as board of director decisions impact everyone in our community.”

The board of directors will guide the cooperative as it examines a complete or partial separation from its power supplier, Tri-State Generation and Transmission.

LPEA executives are examining whether cheaper power that allows for more locally generated renewable electricity can be obtained by splitting from Tri-State, which has a contract with LPEA to supply it with about 95% of its electricity through 2050.

The electric co-op has asked for a buyout amount to get out of the power-supply contract, but has been frustrated by Tri-State’s refusal to provide a dollar amount needed to buyout its contract.

LPEA’s effort to obtain a buyout cost estimate is now under consideration by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

In candidate statements before the election:

  • Skeehan said: “Above all, I never lose sight of how your livelihood and daily life depends on electricity in the right place, at the right time, and at the right price.”
  • McInnis said: “As the District 2 incumbent, I stand strong for you, the members of LPEA, and look forward to collaborating with my colleagues to lead LPEA forward. The future is bright; we have positioned ourselves for success.”
  • Compton said: “I am a committed community member who knows Durango needs to stay affordable with low-cost energy. Most importantly, I know we can achieve these things while protecting the beautiful environment that is essential to our local way of life.”
  • Tim Wheeler said: “I am proud to have voted for LPEA’s commitments to reduce carbon emissions, pursue affordable local renewables and provide greater transparency. But the work isn’t done. Today’s electricity market is changing quickly.”

parmijo@durangoherald.com

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