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LPEA election: two local candidates

With challenges in the energy industry looming large, interest in securing a “seat at the table” when La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) determines current and future policy has stimulated a solid field of candidates for the up-coming board of directors election in all of LPEA’s four districts. Ballots will be mailed Friday, April 20.

“We encourage interest from our members, and we want them to be involved,” said Greg Munro, LPEA CEO. “We are now facing rising costs for the production of electricity, be it traditional generation or renewable, and we will need to be thoughtful and conscientious as we explore our options going forward. This election is very important. We encourage all LPEA members to get to know the candidates and vote.”

In accordance with LPEA’s bylaws, annually one seat in each of LPEA’s four districts comes up for election.

The approximately 7,600 LPEA members in Archuleta County — District 1 — will elect a representative to the board from a field of two: J. Robert (Bob) Formwalt and Kirsten Skeehan.

Candidates in District 1

J. Robert Formwalt is the incumbent candidate for District 1.

Bob Formwalt was raised in southwest Colorado and completed his college education in Business Administration at Fort Lewis College. He spent the next 10 years in the banking industry at Belgrade State Bank of Belgrade, Mont., and Burns National Bank, Durango, with a focus on real estate and agricultural loans. Formwalt served 12 years as an Archuleta County Commissioner, and has participated actively in the local community, as well as statewide, serving on numerous boards and commissions. Employed with his wife on their ranch east of Pagosa, he also currently works part time as a water commissioner for the Colorado Division of Water Resources.

Bob Formwalt: “Spending the better part of the last 50 years of my life living, working, serving and raising my family in Archuleta County has provided me a unique historical perspective of the continual needs LPEA and its members face. The communities in Archuleta and Hinsdale Counties are in jeopardy of not having dependable electricity without redundancy in 115 KV transmission lines and adequate substations. As long as I am your director on the LPEA board, I will continue to support budgets to extend an additional 115 KV transmission line and provide additional substations in order to assure continued, dependable service at the lowest cost possible. I firmly believe this country needs to be moving toward alternative energy sources, but these moves must be done in a reasonable manner to not burden our economically depressed communities by forcing higher energy costs onto our members. I believe Feed-In Tariffs are unfair to our members, especially the low and fixed-income families. Charging members higher electricity rates for alternative energy in order to provide ‘Risk Capital’ to those providers is equally unfair. Also, I believe LPEA needs to continue revisiting its line extension policies in order to not over burden property owners in some of our older subdivisions.”

Kirsten Skeehan is a new candidate for District 1.

A resident of Pagosa Springs for 13 years,?Kirsten Skeehan has been the co-owner of Pagosa Baking Company for 11 of those years, following a 21-year career with Fannie Mae in technology and infrastructure.? Over her career, she managed major construction projects, multi-million dollar computer centers, and both large and small teams. Prior to Fannie Mae, she served in the Navy both active duty and reserves, working in intelligence, computers and worldwide secure communications.?She earned a bachelor of science degree from the U.S. Naval Academy and an MBA from George Washington University. Skeehan is currently chair of the Archuleta County Housing Authority, has promoted geothermal use in Pagosa, is a member and previous board member of Pagosa Noon Rotary, and volunteers with the American Cancer Society.

Kirsten Skeehan: “I see LPEA as a great way to continue my passion for growing Pagosa Country in a sustainable way. We need to diversify our economy and broaden our approach to creating jobs and careers. We need to strengthen our LPEA Coop by actively embracing alternatives, seeing past the status quo and working for multiple, secure, affordable sources of energy. I have the technological and business capability to re-energize the LPEA board. As an LPEA board director, my fiduciary responsibility to the Coop will complement my enthusiasm for local development. We need to be open to many solutions as we face our challenges.”

Election packets will be mailed to all member-owners (those who pay their electric bill to LPEA) on April 20, and ballots must be returned by 4 p.m., Friday, May 11, to FredrickZink & Associates. The independent, Durango-based CPA firm has been retained by LPEA to tally the ballots utilizing La Plata County’s official ballot counting equipment.

Results will be announced at the LPEA annual meeting at Sky Ute Casino and Resort in Ignacio on May 12. Registration for the annual meeting begins at 9 a.m., with the business meeting to commence at 10:30 a.m. A complimentary lunch follows.

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