The annual LPEA board election is happening now, at least for some co-op members. Letters to the editor have become rather heated, especially regarding incumbent nine-year board member Jeff Berman.
Some critics say that's too long. Never mind that it wasn't that long ago when we had good ol' boys on the board for 50 years. I think it's good that those days are in the past. But the generation, transmission, and financial aspects of providing electric are too complicated for short-termers. Term limits in the state legislature have given the institutional memory to special interest lobbyists. There needs to be a balance.
Some critics apparently want to keep us dependent on coal-fired power generation no matter what it's doing to our future. Do those critics have grandchildren?
Everyone wants cheap electricity. But as I mentioned last month, coal-fired power has major costs that are foisted off on third parties and aren't part of the cost paid by the customer.
My electric bill went up a bunch when LPEA raised its base rate, because my monthly electric use is very low (and I'm proud of that). I was advised by a person in a position to know that the base rate is supposed to cover the cost of maintaining LPEA's distribution system, and that if that cost was really being covered, the base rate would be more than $30.
Note that LPEA also was whacked with a significant price increase from its power supplier, Tri-State. This year, LPEA raised its rates for actual electric use. My bill didn't go up as much as it did with the base rate increase. I have no sympathy for those who assert their gawd-given right as Americans to cling to old style incandescent light bulbs.
LPEA has challenged some aspects of Tri-State's rate increase, including contractual limits on how much local renewable power LPEA can generate. I am all for more local renewable generation. I'll support those board candidates.
My big beef now is that for the second year in a row, customers in what I think is LPEA's largest district in La Plata County don't get to vote at all. That's the area south of Highway 160 and the southwest part of the county.
This isn't a commentary for or against the current board members from our district, at least one of whom, I'm pretty sure, has been on the board longer than Jeff Berman.
LPEA directors are chosen by district. Only people living in a district get to vote on that district's candidates. I'm thinking some of the people who have been so critical of Berman have supported a similar voting-by-district system for the county commissioners.
I'd suggest going the other way, to elect LPEA directors at large (but living in their districts) like the county commissioners. That way, some of Berman's biggest critics could actually vote against him.