Ski-country electric co-op prez hit for anti-Ice Age, pro-coal rhetoric

Holy Cross Energy, viewed by many as one of the most progressive rural electric co-ops in the state, isn’t nearly forward-thinking enough for some renewable-energy advocates looking to oust longtime president of the board Tom Turnbull, a Carbondale-area rancher.

In a little-publicized board election to be determined June 5, Turnbull is being targeted by Glenwood Springs businessman and Carbondale resident Marshall Foote, who has the endorsement of the most environmentally aggressive ski company in the state, Aspen SkiCo.

Vail real estate broker George Lamb faces off against Eagle County environmental building planner and overall sustainability guru Adam Palmer in the other contested race, and Aspen’s Hal Clark — an Aspen SkiCo-backed candidate last year — is running unopposed.

Don’t look for the fireworks that accompanied the Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA) board election last month, when the state’s largest (138,000-member) co-op managed to hold the line on its anti-renewable, global-warming-skeptic agenda.

But do look for far more attention to be paid to this REA board election (Holy Cross has 43,000 members stretching from Aspen to Vail) than ever before. While Holy Cross championed a bill in the State Legislature this session allowing higher charges for bigger consumers (read, mountain McMansions), CEO Del Worley opposed an unsuccessful bill that sought to mandate more renewables and efficiency for the IREA.

And both co-ops invested heavily in the new Comanche 3 coal-fired power plant near Pueblo, with the IREA, which covers the suburbs stretching from Denver to Colorado Springs, ponying up $366 million and Holy Cross chipping in another $100 million.

Turnbull defended that off-the-radar outlay of membership money, telling the Aspen Times it was part of a balanced approach to energy distribution that keeps rates lower for consumers. But his comments in a recent newsletter came close to echoing the sentiments of IREA management, making him a potential target in an area of the state immensely dependent on cold temperatures and abundant snowfall.

“There is no doubt that we are witnessing a warming trend but, historically, civilization has benefited and thrived in warmer periods as opposed to ice ages,” Turnbull wrote, according to the Times. Try telling that one to Aspen and Vail voters who keep seeing ski seasons get shorter every year.

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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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