2021 LPEA Board Election

Announcing Local First’s Support for
LPEA Board Candidates

1/3 of La Plata Electric Association’s Board of Directors seats are up for election – which means prioritization of local, renewable energy is at stake. Local First’s Board of Directors are encouraging support for the following candidates:

Over the last decade, our members’ voices in prioritizing local, clean, and renewable energy has become increasingly louder. It is therefore our duty as an organization to support the leaders at LPEA who will not only listen to our priorities as a community, but implement those on a day-to-day basis. By supporting the board candidates that will be the most effective at implementing local, renewable energy goals we are making our home a better place to live. Read more.

LPEA Board Director Candidate Forum

One-third of La Plata Electric Association’s Board of Directors seats are up for election! View the facilitated discussion with the candidates to help inform your vote.

Ballots will be mailed to all LPEA members on May 17, 2021.
Ballots are due June 16, 2021 at 4 p.m!

Election results will be announced during LPEA’s Annual Meeting on June 17 at 6 PM: RSVP!

Q1: Durango and La Plata County have a high cost of living. How do you plan to keep electric rates reasonable for families and businesses struggling to pay the bills?

Q2: How do you see LPEA’s relationship with Tri-State Generation and Transmission and their current energy portfolio? What, if anything, would you like to see changed?

Q3: What do you see as the best way for LPEA to address climate impacts in the next decade?

Q4: What would you say separates you from the other candidate running in your district?

Q5: There have been reliability discussions in past forums. Do you believe that Tri-State is responsible for providing reliable energy to LPEA? Can you speak to this in relation to balancing authorities like WAPA (Western Area Power Administration, and the Western Area Colorado Missouri that balances our region) and their role in providing reliability?

Q6: What role do you see Electric Vehicles playing on the grid and what role LPEA would play in that?

Candidate Statements

District 1 – Kirsten Skeehan (Incumbent)

Throughout 22 years in Pagosa Springs I have served our community on the boards of LPEA and Archuleta County Housing Authority. You may know me as co-owner of Pagosa Baking Company, but in addition to being a baker and small business owner, I have a deep technical background. I earned a BS from the Naval Academy and worked for Naval Intelligence on information systems and worldwide secure communications. Post Navy, I earned an MBA from George Washington and worked in operations and project management. My favorite projects included major construction, connecting campuses via fiber, and managing operations. The age of relying on single electricity sources is past. Increasing pressure on the grid by weather, aging infrastructure, and increased complexity requires complex and nuanced solutions. We need to diversify—and we need experienced leadership to ensure we diversify in smart, secure, and affordable ways. As a proud geek and data enthusiast, I use research and analysis to inform decisions in my business and at LPEA. In my time on the board, I’ve reached out to regional electrical coops to learn from others’ successes and failures. 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. As LPEA members we are responsible to and for each other. As your director, I'll continue to work together with you to ensure we have the RELIABLE, SECURE, AFFORDABLE energy we need now and in the future. 

District 1 – Veronica Medina

I am a candidate for the LPEA Board of Directors, District 1 representing Archuleta County. I have lived in Pagosa Springs for 7 years and I have been very involved in my community. My stepfather was born and raised in Archuleta County, with so much family here I feel I must stand up for Archuleta County. I have a master's in business administration and am currently a realtor licensed in Colorado as well as Nevada. I am committed to maintaining our quality of life in Archuleta County and that especially includes the quality of service we have come to expect from LPEA. In these days of uncertainty, it is essential that LPEA continues to maintain its high level of reliable service, to upgrade and maintain our grid system, and to provide affordable electric rates for all 40,000 LPEA members, especially the elderly, our families on fixed incomes, and those lower income residents. I feel strongly that members should have the opportunity to vote on the decision to maintain the Tri-State contract or to replace their source of power with alternative sources of energy. I will fight to keep rates low and to keep Archuleta County informed of what is happening in LPEA.

District 2 – Kohler McInnis (Incumbent)

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. As a Director on the LPEA Board my actions will continue to be focused on: Keeping your electric bill as low as possible. Lower rates provide you more freedom to live a quality life. Electricity is a necessity, not a luxury; Knowing your health, safety, and security are dependent upon reliable electric power when you need it, 24/7. This includes everything you do: heating & cooling, communicating, food preparation, and more; Providing dependable power, which requires oversight of capital project budgets, power supply contracts, and operational needs; Using common sense to address the challenges and opportunities of the remarkable changes facing the electric power industry.  This approach provides the ability to continue improving your local electric service; Expanding and improving current technologies which will lead to a cleaner environment, higher efficiency, and reduced costs; Staying engaged in research and strategy by working with the staff, directors, and members to make sustainable decisions about LPEA’s future power supply; Working to keep LPEA financially strong and viable and returning your Capital Credits on a timely basis. I would appreciate your vote and look forward to serving another term representing District 2 on the Board of Directors of LPEA. Thank you for your support.

District 2 – Mark Walser

As a teacher, I always have my eyes on the future. I’m proud to call La Plata County home, and I’m committed to defending and improving our way of life for future generations. The most important part of our co-op is you - the member. I am committed to helping our members easily and effectively engage with our co-op. Together, our community can thrive during its transition towards a more local, resilient, and cleaner energy distribution system.  I value the freedom that comes from hard work and self-sufficiency. Unfortunately, these values aren’t always upheld by our electric co-op.  Unfortunately, LPEA is currently hamstrung by a restrictive contract with Tri-State Generation, which forces members to buy overpriced electricity from out of state. I support the board’s current efforts to review this contract. As your LPEA Director, I will work to provide competitive rates, reliable electricity, and a clear vision for the future. Over the course of my career as an educator, I have demonstrated a thoughtful and analytical approach to leadership. I earned my master’s degree from Fort Lewis College, and I honed my public policy skills as a Bill Archer Fellow in Washington DC. During Durango School District 9-R negotiations, I represented teachers while finding compromise as a trusted negotiator. I will bring these skills and experiences to LPEA in order to generate common-ground, common-sense solutions. I’m running to build a better future for all LPEA members. I look forward to the opportunity to serve you in this important job. 

District 3 – Ted Compton

Reliability.  Affordability.  Sustainability.  If these three things are important to you, please support me, Ted Compton, for the LPEA Board of Directors. I’m a career engineer with the skills and experience to provide oversight and ensure that our families never wake up to an energy crisis like Texas experienced this year. I am a committed community member that 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. My family has five generations of history in La Plata County. I graduated from DHS as valedictorian in 1988. After obtaining a pair of engineering degrees from Stanford University, I came home to Durango to work, raise a family, and contribute to the community. My love of our town means I step up and volunteer when needed. This includes nine years on the board of La Plata Open Space Conservancy, seven years on the board of FastTrack Communications, and four years as a judge for Colorado’s Advanced Industry Grants bringing over $2M in state grant money into our region for small businesses. At this critical time, I am needed on the LPEA board, and I want to work for you. I will use my skills, education, experience, and broad community support to make the decisions needed to provide LPEA members with reliable and sustainable electricity at the lowest cost in Colorado. Power Ahead with Ted! 

District 3 – Bill Waters

I am a 5-generation plus family in the Durango and Mancos area. I was born and raised in Durango. Graduated from Durango High School and went on to San Juan Vo-Tech School in Cortez. In 43 years of employment, my experience is in business, finance, sales, construction, leadership, customer satisfaction, and short and long-term investment with equitable returns. I understand the importance of customer satisfaction. Listen to all concerns. I believe in safe, reliable, affordable, and sustainable power to all members of LPEA. Renewable energy sources of solar, hydroelectric, and wind I support. Lowering our carbon footprint is essential. As a farmer and steward of the land, I understand the true value long term. It is truly important we supply affordable electric rates to elderly on fixed incomes, and those who need assistance. Will always look at keeping electric rates low and increases at a minimum. Employed in the construction industry, I understand the importance of proper equipment required by LPEA personnel to safely repair the electrical power infrastructure during severe weather and power outages. Decisions made require facts and supportive data. It is imperative, the LPEA Board of Directors work together for the common good of all members. The board is a representation of members by election. It is their duty to represent them and not a personal agenda. Professionalism, safety, accountability, relationships, and quality are all part of LPEA Code of Excellence. I believe in all of these. "Electricity is a necessity, not a luxury" We need to keep it affordable. 

District 4 – Tim Wheeler (Incumbent)

Here in this wonderful corner of Colorado, we’re writing the playbook for our future—a La Plata Way of Life. It’s a vision for community-led solutions and self-sufficiency. As your LPEA Director, I’m honored to serve at the heart of this movement. Together we’re working towards a triple win of affordable, local, clean energy resources. The current LPEA team has created one of the most professional, transparent, and publicly engaged electric co-ops in the country. It’s been my privilege to serve as the Co-op's Treasurer, on the Broadband Committee, Finance and Audit Committee, and as LPEA’s FastTrack Representative. 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. LPEA is being called to tackle major issues with our electric supplier. To overcome these challenges and move forward, LPEA needs strong, experienced, and informed leadership. I joined this extraordinary community 27 years ago with my family, and I’ve brought a lifetime of business skills to my service as your board member, including work as Apple Computer Asia’s Director of Marketing, a local business consultant, and owner of the Durango Coffee Company retail store. I am committed to giving back, serving locally on numerous non-profit boards. With your vote, I will continue using my skills and relationships to enlist the entire community in designing our La Plata Way of Life. Together we will build the system all LPEA members deserve.

District 4 – John Purser

VOTE like the future of LPEA depends on it. Traditionally LPEA has been an electric distribution cooperative. LPEA has a great tradition of providing service to its members. There is now a push to expand the role of LPEA as an electricity generator. I’m very concerned that this will not be beneficial to the membership at large and we’ll lose focus on what LPEA has done well. The impetus for this change came years ago when the power provided to LPEA by Tri-State was produced by fossil fuels and had a large greenhouse gas footprint. Times have changed, and now Tri-State’s goal for greenhouse gas reduction exceeds the strategic goal for LPEA. There is no longer an environmental justification for leaving Tri-State. This is a significant issue with many good points on both sides. One of the LPEA by-laws that I would advocate for changing is that contracts of more than a 10-year term would require a full membership vote. There should be full, robust and comprehensive debate in our community. We have a large diverse membership, with 10% living below the poverty line. Our full membership should have a direct voice on long term contracts. For a comprehensive discussion of policy please see www.johnpurserforlpea.com. My economics degree, with studies in environmental economics, and security markets and financial institutions, provide me the academic background to evaluate solutions to long term infrastructure planning for LPEA. My 35 years working in the IT industry provides the practical experience in organization management. 

Importance of This Election

THE ECONOMIC CASE FOR LOCAL, RENEWABLE ENERGY
These days, most people understand the importance of shopping locally to support our economy and keep dollars close to home. But, what about buying local energy? The same concept applies. Local First is a non-profit alliance of locally-owned, independent businesses and organizations working together to build an economy that values people, the planet, and prosperity for everyone. As such, we advocate for keeping energy dollars re-circulating locally to create jobs, support the local energy industry, and maintain our quality of life.

A prime example of economic prosperity that is leaving our community is found in our local not-for-profit electrical distribution and public power cooperative, the La Plata Electric Association (LPEA). LPEA relies on Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association for power along with 43 other members across Colorado, New Mexico, Nebraska and Wyoming. Currently, our energy comes from LPEA, which is part of a larger energy co-op called Tri-State. LPEA is required to purchase 95% of our electricity from Tri-State until 2050 because of a long-term contract that was renewed with Tri-State. Tri-State’s energy is over 60% coal produced, making them the 2nd worst climate emitting electricity producer in the country.

If we could produce just 10% of our power locally that would keep
$7 million a year here locally to circulate in our community.

Local Businesses Prioritizing Local, Renewable Energy

In 2019, 120 businesses and 1,500 individuals, signed Local First’s Power Local petition that resulted in both the City of Durango and LPEA setting impressive carbon emission goals. The following businesses have extended their support to Local First for this race to ensure our community’s priority of local, renewable energy stays front and center during this board election:

Identify Your Voting District

Candidates by District:
District 1 – Archuleta County: Kirsten Skeehan (Incumbent), Veronica Medina
District 2 – South and West La Plata County: Kohler McInnis (Incumbent), Mark Walser
District 3 – City of Durango: Ted Compton, Bill Waters
District 4 – North and East La Plata County: Tim Wheeler (Incumbent), John Purser