San Miguel electric co-op goes green in most recent board election

At least one Colorado rural electric co-ops is leaning greener this week after a pro-renewable candidate, former Telluride Mountain Village Mayor Rube Felicelli, beat out incumbent Tony Forrest for a board seat on the San Miguel Power Association.

The Telluride Daily Planet reported Monday that Felicelli joined three other green board members on the seven-member SMPA board, giving energy conservation and renewable energy advocates a majority.

“I think we finally have a green majority,” incumbent board member Michael Saftler told the Daily Planet, “and we’ll push that agenda as far as we can.”

Many of the state’s 22 rural co-ops have seen intense new interest in recent board elections as green candidates have tried to unseat entrenched incumbents determined to keep electric rates low through increased investment in coal.

SMPA buys most of its power from Tri-State Generation and Transmission, based in Westminster, which is pushing to build a new coal-fired power plant near Holcomb, Kansas.

The state’s largest rural electric co-op, the Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA), recently went through a contentious board election, and Holy Cross Energy on Friday concluded a hotly contested race for two seats. Results of that election still were not available as of Tuesday evening.

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