JULY 8, 2019 BY 

From the Steamboat Pilot & Today | June 27, 2019

by Frances Hohl

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Yampa Valley Electric Association member-owners voted in two new directors and voted down a new by-law that would make it easier to remove board directors who are not meeting their elected responsibility at the association’s annual meeting Tuesday. The group also honored long-time YVEA director Pat McClelland on his retirement from the board.

Although every one of YVEA’s 27,000 members are considered owners in the co-op, only about 3,000 voted in the board election this year. Ballots were returned by mail or delivered to the YVEA office in person. About 100 members also showed up in person to vote on a bylaw change.

The co-op is represented by nine directors, with three director districts up for election every year.

In District 3, Steamboat Springs City Council member Sonja Macys, a natural resources professional, defeated her opponent Jeremy Behling, a Steamboat Springs business owner, to replace McClelland. Hayden businessman Patrick Delaney defeated incumbent Frank Roitsch in District 5, and in District 4, incumbent Dean Brosious was re-elected over his challenger, Charles “Chuck” Grobe.

YVEA members voted down a change to one of the existing by-laws, and a few people expressed concern they didn’t get the proposed by-law changes in enough time to study it.

“First, the changes appear hurried,” said co-op customer Scott Connor. “I received this on Friday. We should have at least 10 days to review these changes.”

YVEA’s legal counsel said the process of proposing the bylaw changes met all legal requirements for notifying members.

The bylaw change that was rejected would have given the board of directors another way to remove a director who is not doing their job properly. The current bylaws require 10% of current membership to sign a petition to request removal of a director. The bylaw change would have also allowed a director to file a formal complaint that could lead to the removal of another director if deemed appropriate and necessary.

McClelland, who served on the board for 18 years, said he remembers seeing board members sleeping through meetings when he first joined YVEA as a director.

“When I got on the board in 2001, the GM ran the company and the board of directors were just ‘yes’ men,” said McClelland, whose father was a YVEA lineman. “They’d been on the board for 30 plus years … some would sleep during meetings. It was ridiculous. These bylaws were written in the 1960s. We need to get them into the 21st century.”

Several attendees encouraged the board to readdress the bylaws through their “policy committee” with more input from the public.

In the meantime, McClelland said it’s now time for him to step down and allow “young blood” onto the board. He believes YVEA has the best management in place he’s ever seen, from the lineman apprentice on up to the general manager.

When asked about his biggest accomplishments with YVEA, McClelland, a retired banker, said he’s proud of helping to shepherd through selling the old YVEA building on Yampa Street and developing the current campus at the former site of TIC Holdings on Elk River Road.

“There, we could remodel rather than spend $20 million on a whole new campus,” McClelland said.

In his annual report, Chairman of the Board of Directors Tom Fox said YVEA has made big strides in the last six years, including advanced metering and “Luminate Broadband,” a new company bringing high-speed broadband internet to YVEA membership.

He also praised the company’s solar garden that can be seen next to the Steamboat Springs office. The garden is part of a state-sponsored program that helps low-income customers pay for electricity.

General Manage Steven Johnson assured YVEA members that while state and federal legislators push for “greener” mandates, his goal is to keep the “electricity safe, reliable and affordable.”

“That core value will not change,” Johnson said.

YVEA purchases about 95 percent of its power from Xcel Energy, a company that McClelland said is aggressive in developing renewable energy.

“They (Xcel) want to get to 50 percent renewable energy by the year 2030,” McClelland said.

McClelland said Colorado’s current governor is proposing the state be green by 2050. He doesn’t think it’s economically feasible, unless there is a huge leap in technology.

“Battery storage is the secret to renewable energy working 24 hours a day,” McClelland said. “You have to be able to save what you’re not using.”

Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today.