A good news week

It has been a week blessed with welcome events and announcements — some that quicken the emotions, others that bloom with good news. The emotional quality of the week was produced by the visit of service men and women, here as part of the Wounded Warrior Project. We are proud to host them, honored that they have so nobly served us all.

The good news comes on a somewhat odd front: public utilities and services.

From La Plata Electric Co-op we learn that Pagosa’s Terry Alley has been selected as the president of the board of directors. In a time when it seems many power providers — among a bevy of similar, quasi-public organizations — have grown ever-more distant from customers as rates continue to rise, it is comforting to know Alley is at the helm of the board. He has served us as a representative of District 1 for eight years and has served us well.

With his experience on the board, as well as his years of high-level administrative work as superintendent of Archuleta School District 50 Jt., he brings a unique skill set, and a steady temperament to the table.

We, in fact, have had consistently good representation on the LPEA board of directors. Harry Cole has been a member of the board for 25 years and possesses encyclopedic knowledge of Co-op doings. Bob Formwalt, a very steady hand, with expansive experience in public affairs, will serve as the LPEA board representative to Western United.

Alley noted there are a number of important situations to deal with in the near future at LPEA. First up is potential climate change legislation and the question of whether or not tax on carbon emissions will be passed on to electric generators and Co-ops (and, of course, to customers). LPEA must still contend with growth, in particular in La Plata County — growth related to gas field expansion and related expenses. Also, said Alley, the Co-op will continue to look at ways to deal with the question of renewable energy and the addition of renewables to the portfolio. As the Co-op moves on, we believe its leadership is solid and profoundly committed to the best interests of customers.

The other good news relates to a major-league amount of federal stimulus money obtained by the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation district — $9.3 million.

This is good news is that, if for no other reason, finally, some federal stimulus money is making its way to Pagosa Country. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act award comes to the district via the state’s Department of Public Health and Environment Water Quality Control Commission.

The money will be put to good use, improving and repairing infrastructure in the district. The Highlands Lagoon Wastewater Treatment Facility, long a problem with a record of violations, will be decommissioned and eliminated, with more than seven miles of pipeline constructed to take wastewater to the Vista Treatment Plant. Work on the project must begin at summer’s end and it could provide a welcome boost to the local economy. The district warns that a slight increase in service charges might result, but customers need to remember that, should authorities have demanded the plant be removed and the pipeline built at customer expense, the rate increase would have been much more than slight.

Congratulations to the PAWSD personnel who managed to procure this stimulus money. Since all of us taxpayers are now deeply involved in bailing out failed banks, and owning failed industries, it’s nice to see some cash flow our way to be put to good use.