Vote for a brighter LPEA future

To the editor,
It never ceases to amaze me how much change has occurred at La Plata Electric Association in the almost three years since I was elected to the Board of Directors. During my first year on the Board, the president of the Board refused to even let us talk about climate change. But with the election of a strong majority of forward-looking directors in the last two years, we are definitely moving toward a new future.
From the beginning, I have shared three primary goals for LPEA. The first goal is cleaner energy. That means much less energy from coal. Coal is inherently dirty as everyone knows. It’s dirty to mine, it’s dirty to transport, and it’s dirty to burn. In addition, burning coal emits twice as much carbon dioxide into the air as burning natural gas. And, of course, it emits a great deal more CO2 than clean sources like solar and wind.
The second goal is cheaper energy. Until about 2007, our power supplier, Tri-State, was very competitive on price. But with the steep drop in the cost of natural gas, Tri-State’s coal-generated energy became uncompetitive. Since we are locked into a contract with Tri-State through the year 2050, we are forced to pay Tri-State’s uncompetitive rates, costing our members tens of millions of dollars each year.
The third goal is more local energy. The money we currently pay to Tri-State goes out of our area and has very little positive local economic impact. If we were able to produce more energy locally, we could keep much of that money in our community and create more good-paying jobs.
The LPEA Board has hired consultants in the last two years and conducted internal studies to see what can be done to achieve these goals. This resulted in asking Tri-State to give LPEA a “buyout number,” which is the amount we would have to pay to terminate the contract with Tri-State. Tri-State responded by saying that they would not provide a number at this time. This caused the LPEA Board to vote to file a complaint with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission asking them to come up with a fair and reasonable buyout number. The process of working through the complaint is happening right now, and I am optimistic there will be a good outcome for your co-op.
The LPEA Board also hired a new CEO for the co-op, Jessica Matlock. Jessica is bringing an entirely new management methodology to LPEA by stressing teamwork and cooperation throughout the company. The employees appear to be very enthusiastic about this new approach. Jessica is also studying what LPEA needs to do differently in order to make sure we are ready to be the utility of the future.
In the elections that are coming up this spring, Bob Lynch, Rachel Landis and I will be running for re-election. We share very similar views on how we need to move LPEA forward. Bob has been the president of the Board for the last two years, and Rachel has done a lot of great work around communication and cooperation within the Board. I hope you will agree that LPEA is moving in the right direction, and I hope you will vote to re-elect these forward-looking directors.
– Guinn Unger, La Plata Electric Association Board of Directors