IREA board incumbents pull plug on green challengers

Incumbents made it a clean sweep Thursday in the prickly battle for seats on the board of the Intermountain Rural Electric Association, the state’s largest rural electric co-op with nearly 138,000 members.

Results in the last of three contested district races once again favored the incumbent, Gene Sperry, although by a closer margin of 3,167 votes to 2,613 for challenger Mike Galvin.

Earlier in the week, two other incumbents won by much wider margins in races that pitted renewable energy and conservation-minded candidates against incumbents who favor traditional energy sources such as coal.

In an e-mail release on the election results from the consumer-advocacy group IREA Voices, which backed all three challengers, there was a clear note of disappointment: “The ballot results unfortunately favored the do-nothing incumbent.”

IREA Voices also thanked Galvin, a former educator from Woodland Park: “Your efforts, like all member-owners who participate in our co-op, help to steer IREA back toward a course that gives access to all of us instead of only a select few.”

The IREA administration, however, struck an even more defiant tone in its release, not naming him but clearly referring to board member Mike Kempe, who was elected to the seven-member board two years ago on a renewable-energy, conservation platform.

“Again, the IREA member/consumers have given overwhelming support to the six out of seven directors who are committed to providing the best possible service at the lowest possible cost, payment of capital credits, and more importantly, support and follow the wishes of the vast majority of IREA members instead of a small special interest group,” the IREA release read.

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