The state’s largest rural election association last week once again elected just one green candidate in a bloc of three members looking to reform policies currently geared more toward conventional power sources.Mike Kempe, a chemical engineer and research scientist for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, was re-elected to the Intermountain Rural Electric Association board by a margin of 2,892 votes to 1,870 for challenger John Dendahl. Kempe is often the lone dissenting vote on the board of the IREA, which has just under 140,000 members in the Front Range suburbs between Denver and Colorado Springs.
Two other candidates who favor conservation and more renewable energy sources – Mat Matson and Janet Spooner – didn’t fare as well. Spooner narrowly missed out in District 6, losing to Robert Graf by a margin of 2,057 to 1,856. Matson lost 2,510 to 2,262 to Duke Dozier in District 2.
Last month, Kempe told the Colorado Independent (TCI) that entrenched old-energy management and board members of the IREA were working hard to stave off green challengers, spending lavishly on advertising for the campaigns of Dendahl, Dozier and Graf.
“The idea is that if they can get me off the board, then this movement to reform IREA could be squashed. That’s what’s at stake,” Kempe told TCI. “What’s at stake is real oversight over the co-op from my perspective.”
Kempe said that over the years he has daylighted and helped curtail such suspect practices as paying consulting contracts for groups and individuals working to cast public doubt on widely established scientific data about global climate change.
“The bigger thing is making the co-op accountable to its members and getting a board that actively questions management,” Kempe said. “I’ve been on the board for four years and in that time I’m the only one who’s ever voted no on anything and that’s not normal for a co-op board.”