I am leaving the Empire Electric board of directors due to my moving out of my district for personal reasons. I would like to thank the members of the cooperative for their support during my eight years of service. Empire is one of the outstanding businesses in Montezuma County. They pay reasonable wages and provide an excellent benefit package, including health and dental, to the hands. Safety always comes first and their safety record is exemplary and continues to improve. Electricity is delivered seamlessly with one of the best reliability records in Colorado while keeping a lid on costs. It is with regret that I have to leave such a winning team. The cooperative business model is working well. The best new director will be one who can keep our cooperative strong and continue with its winning ways of customer service, reliability, and reasonable cost.
The world of electric power supply has changed greatly since I was elected in 2003. In 2003 it was mostly about low cost. Today, greenhouse gas regulation is changing the way electric power is generated. There are many new and old technologies, and understanding their benefits and short comings takes a good analytical thinker. The decisions that are made in the near future regarding power supply will affect generations ahead. The best new director will be one who can understand the science and mechanics of power generation and delivery together with the impacts on cost and reliability. Sound understanding of the sciences involved is a real plus.
As Empire is a member-owned cooperative, it is controlled through a representative democratic process where every bill payer (member) can vote for the members of the board of directors, who in turn are the boss of the general manager, set policy, and make major financial decisions. The directors are a most important link in the chain as they speak the voice of the members. The best new director will be in touch with the community at a neighborhood level and be able to communicate and implement the needs of the owner-members while still running the business effectively.
Empire is a not-for-profit business and I leave it in very sound financial condition. We easily satisfy all the required financial ratios and measurements required for electric utilities. Each day we sell an average of $141,000 worth of electricity to over 15,000 customers. We deliver this potentially dangerous commodity in a safe manner that protects our workers and users. We are able to do this with only 59 total employees. The best new director will have a good business background and understand that policy decisions made in the board room will allow Empire to continue on solid financial footing, while keeping costs at a reasonable level and being attentive environmental impacts. Safety will be of the utmost concern, and maintaining safe working conditions for Empires employees should have every directors attention. This would include continued support for the new operations center that needs to be built to replace the unsafe and worn-out 60-year-old facility now being used. Good business sense is required.
The best new director will be Eric Lindgren. I have known Eric for over a dozen years. He is an experienced team player, problem solver, and able to work with different ideas with ease. He has a good scientific mind and will be a valuable asset to the board in consideration of new technologies and directions that are guaranteed to happen in the future. His background as a chemical engineer and work in the energy field will greatly help boardroom decision making. Eric is in touch with the community as well. His family has been a fixture at the Cortez farmers market and they had a fruit stand on the McElmo Canyon road for years where they sold their apples, pears and vegetables. This commerce offers a great way to visit with the neighbors and talk about issues such as electricity. Eric has managed large research programs at the workplace and can build a team, keep it pointed in the right direction, and achieve desired results. He brings a full toolbox of experience to the table and is simply the best qualified, has the most relevant background, and, besides, he is just a plain good guy.
I whole hearted endorse Eric Lindgren to be the next Empire director from District 5. Vote now! Best wishes to the cooperative going forward.
Jim Lawrence is retiring from the Empire Election Association board of directors.