Electricity board incumbent backs renewables, natural gas | VailDaily.com

Electricity board incumbent backs renewables, natural gas

Scott Millersmiller@vaildaily.comVail, CO Colorado
Robert Starodoj is a longtime member of the Holy Cross Energy board

EAGLE COUNTY – Holy Cross Energy, which provides electricity to most of Eagle County, is holding a board of directors election this spring. Ballots were mailed recently to the roughly 35,000 eligible members of the electric co-op, and voting is open until 11 a.m. June 5, when the utility’s annual meeting begins at the Ramada Inn at Glenwood Springs.All members can vote for candidates in every director district. This year, there are two candidates for the Aspen-area director’s seat and three candidates for the Vail Valley’s director seat. The Vail Daily asked all the candidates to answer a handful of questions. Here are the answers from Robert Starodoj, the incumbent from the Aspen area.Name: Robert F. Starodoj.Age: 72.Residence: Aspen. Employer: Mason & Morse Real Estate.Why do you want this job? I have been a longtime member of the Holy Cross Energy board and feel continuity, longevity and leadership are paramount in having a strong, effective board. There are currently three relatively new members on the board, and I feel that it would be a mistake to add two new board members with a very little utility experience to the existing board. I will transition out after this term, should I get re-elected. By that time the current new board members should be up to speed. I would like to take Holy Cross Energy into the 21st century in the best financial position as possible even with the downturn in the economy. Job one is to remain a healthy and viable organization throughout all economic cycles. We continue to meet our desired renewable goals even in the difficult economic times. My job is to see Holy Cross Energy moving in a positive direction far into the 21st century.What do people need to know about Holy Cross? We continue to explore all large renewable resource opportunities – including new micro-hydro, biomass, geothermal, wind and solar – in our territory. We are also investigating natural gas turbines as back-up generation for our green projects. Energy conservation is the cheapest and fastest way to impact energy usage. To that end, Holy Cross Energy continues its residential and limited-scope commercial “energy audits” for our consumers to help monitor their energy usage and save on their electric bills. These services, free to our consumers, are another means of helping to protect the environment. Our tiered rate structure will also encourage consumers to conserve energy. There are no quick fixes or silver bullets in the utility business. Planning is done on a yearly basis with some commitments lasting 20 to 30 years. We are continually evaluating our position on all issues and adjusting as needed. We are blessed to have an excellent staff and employees whose dedication and commitment to the organizations has kept us fluid, flexible and moving in a positive direction.In a rather poor economy Holy Cross Energy will refund $2 million plus to its members this June. How should Holy Cross plan for possibility of future legislation requiring utilities to get a greater percentage of their electricity from renewable sources? It is hard to predict what future legislation will entail. However, Holy Cross Energy has and will stay ahead of the power curve for green energy. We are continually trying to evaluate other sources of green power, such as micro-hydro, wind, solar, thermal, etc. There might be breakthroughs in technology such as portable hydrogen cell that may be economically viable in the very near future. We need to be flexible and vigilant to take advantage of the new technologies as they become available.While the national economy has virtually stopped growth in Holy’s Cross’ service area, how should the utility plan for the days when economy is healthier? As the economy gets healthier we should be first looking at more energy conservation. This is the quickest way to affect energy consumption. Second, our new tier structure will help energy consumption in the future. Third, we must always be looking to new technology to further our energy model. Sustainable and renewable are what we should be pursuing. I am not sure we are there yet.

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