Rural electric co-op accused of board-election shenanigans

If you’re one of the nearly 137,000 members of the Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA), a sprawling co-op providing power in 10 counties between Denver and Colorado Springs, you may have noticed a little something extra with your bill this month. Or you may not have.

The member-owned nonprofit co-op whose board and general manager for the most part feel global warming is a hoax and argue instead for “global cooling” isn’t exactly going out of its way to trumpet its board election, the results of which will be tallied and announced at the annual meeting in Woodland Park on Saturday, April 18.

Ballots went out March 19, the last possible day according to the co-ops bylaws, which say they must be mailed no less than 30 days before the annual meeting.

But there’s no mention of the upcoming election, in which no fewer than three of the seven district seats are being contested, on the IREA’s Web site or in its latest newsletter, Watts and Volts, other than to say it’s on the agenda for the annual meeting.

Three candidates backed by the member-advocacy group IREA Voices who favor more investment in efficiency and renewable projects, or at least providing the option to members, are challenging long-time incumbents who critics claim are far too cozy with traditional energy providers, primarily the coal industry.

One of the challengers, former school principal Mike Galvin of Woodland Park, said the first thing he’ll do if elected is help draft a new election policy. He argued it’s inherently unfair for challengers not to know when ballots will be mailed and to then be the target of IREA-funded mailers echoing the campaign rhetoric of incumbents.

Supporters of Galvin’s opponent, Gene Sperry, say Galvin is backed by a “centrally funded activist group” trying to “impose their eco-extremist religion” on all of us.

Who knew an REA election could be so … electrifying?

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About the Author

David O. Williams

is an award-winning reporter who has covered energy, environmental and political issues for years. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Denver Post. He's founder of Real Vail
and Real Aspen.

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