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Seven candidates to seek election to LPEA board of directors

Electric co-op wrestles with how to use more renewable energy

Six candidates will compete for three open seats on the La Plata Electric Association board of directors during the spring election to lead the co-op during what could be a pivotal time.

The co-op is researching new power-supply options as the price of renewable energy becomes cheaper. LPEA is contracted to purchase 95 percent of its energy from Tri-State Generation and Transmission, an electric wholesaler heavily reliant on coal, until 2050.

The co-op has also set ambitious goals to cut its carbon footprint by 50 percent by 2030 and keep costs lower than 70 percent of its peer cooperatives in Colorado.

Renewable energy, financial responsibility and local energy jobs may drive debate during this election based on candidates’ written statements that will be mailed to voters.

LPEA members in three districts will vote for a candidate to represent them on the board of directors for a three-year term. Each district has three representatives on the board.

In the city of Durango, District 3, Joe Lewandowski is the only candidate. Pending formal approval by the LPEA board, Lewandowski, a spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, will be appointed to the board. He will replace current board member Doug Lyon.

In a statement, Lewandowski said he supports local renewable energy generation and the economic development it could generate.

“Now is the time for LPEA to move aggressively to work with other electric cooperatives and alternative energy providers to deliver members clean, reliable, affordable power,” he said.

In District 1, Archuleta County, two new candidates will vie for the seat vacated by retiring director Mike Alley. Holly Metzler, an owner of Wilderness Journeys and Pagosa Rafting Outfitters, will face Michel Whiting, a former Archuleta County commissioner.

In District 2, south and west La Plata County, Jeff Mannix, an author and rancher, is challenging incumbent Dan Huntington, a rancher.

In District 4, north and east La Plata County, Sarah Ferrell, an active LPEA member, is challenging Jack Turner, a former hydrologist and adjunct professor at Fort Lewis College.

LPEA ballots will be mailed in April and the election will be held on May 2 during the co-op’s annual meeting.

mshinn@durangoherald.com

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