As lawmakers once again try to put the heat on the state’s largest rural electric co-op this legislative session, at least one state senator will be in the Intermountain Rural Electric Association’s corner, even though he may have to recuse himself from key votes.
Republican Mike Kopp, a Gulf War veteran who represents the conservative confines of southern Jefferson County — which also happen to be in the IREA’s coverage area — has joined the team of the 138,000-member co-op famous for its hard-line stance refuting global warming and resisting renewable energy mandates.
Three green candidates tried and failed to get elected to the IREA board last spring, alleging after the fact as well as during the campaign that the nonprofit utility utilized questionable campaign tactics to tilt the vote in favor of conservative, coal-committed incumbents. State Rep. Claire Levy (D-Boulder) says she’ll introduce a rural co-op election transparency bill this session.
Kopp, who won a bitterly contested primary and then beat out a Democrat in 2006, now is on the payroll of the IREA as a corporate efficiency expert. Besides his stint in the U.S. Army, Kopp has a Masters of Public Administration degree from the University of Colorado. His undergrad degree is a Bachelor of Arts in ministry from North Central University in Minneapolis.
After graduation, “he helped develop and start new churches, youth and community service programs in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado,” according to his website. “As a businessman and small business owner engaged in business and non-profit development, Mike was a good fit when he was asked to join the senior management team of the state’s largest non-profit electric utility.”
There is precedent for Kopp’s gig with the IREA. William Schroeder, the association’s manager of public affairs, is a former Republican state senator from Morrison.
“What Mike brings to our operation is experience regarding certain things to make the thing run better,” Schroeder said of Kopp, although he couldn’t come up with the current senator’s exact title.