New-energy candidates powerless in IREA election

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Incumbent board members soundly defeat challengers

By Nicole Queen

Challengers for three seats on the board of the Intermountain Rural Electric Association — who called for more openness and a willingness to embrace alternative energy sources — were soundly defeated in last week’s elections.

The three challengers all were endorsed by IREA Voices, a group of co-op members who say IREA is mired in fossil-fuel thinking and lacks transparency in the way it does business.

• In District 7, incumbent George Hier received 3,899 votes, to 1,862 for Charles Bucknam.

• In District 3, incumbent Gene Sperry won 3,167 votes, while Mike Galvin netted 2,613.

• In District 5, incumbent Bruff Shea received 3,838 votes, and John Masson 2,178.

The results mean that Mike Kempe, board director for District 1, which covers parts of Conifer, Roxborough, Evergreen and Morrison, will continue to have no allies in advancing the green and open agenda.

Kempe was hoping the election would provide more voices to back him up on the board, ending his days as a lone wolf.

“Getting (any challenger) on the board means I would get a second,” Kempe said. “There would be more than one person asking tough questions of management. I’ve been on the board 2½ years, (and) I’m the only one who’s ever voted no on anything …”

In an e-mail sent by Michael Chiodo, an IREA Voices steering committee member, challenger Galvin was quoted as saying: “While we didn’t win, we made them pay attention (at least during the campaign!)"

Masson said the campaigns were a “monumental battle.” But in many ways the battle started three years ago.

Members formed IREA Voices — including Kempe, who severed ties with the group after his election — after IREA paid global warming skeptic Patrick Michaels $100,000 in 2006. At the same time, IREA purchased a quarter of a share in Xcel’s Comanche 3 coal plant in Pueblo.

The incumbents campaigned on a platform of reasonable rates and a stay-the-course philosophy.

Contact Nicole at nicole@evergreenco.com. Check www.hightimbertimes.com for updates and breaking news.