Vail electricity board challenger touts passion for efficiency
VAIL – Holy Cross Energy, which provides electricity to most of the Vail Valley, 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 Erik Lundquist, a challenger for the Vail Valley district seat.Name: Erik J. Lundquist.Age: 40.Residence: Gypsum.Employer: A big box home improvement retailer in Glenwood Springs. I am currently an under-employed engineer due to my former engineering employer closing its office here in the mountains.I have lived and worked in the Vail and Roaring Fork Valleys for nearly 11 years. My professional background is in mechanical, plumbing and electrical engineering with a strong background in energy efficient design. My professional credentials include: professional engineer; certified geo-exchange designer; high-performance building design professional; building energy modeling professional; and leed accredited professional – building design & construction. Why do you want this job? Because I know I can apply my engineering abilities and my passion for energy efficiency to help our community meet the challenges of today and into the future. We face many challenges from regulation on carbon dioxide emissions to increasing demand from both development and electrical transportation including plug-in hybrids and all electric vehicles. While I do not know all the issues we may face or have the solutions at this time, I have the knowledge, skills and desire to identify the issues and to find workable solutions for our members. What do people need to know about Holy Cross? Holy Cross is a great co-op and everyone is working hard to find the balance of affordable electricity with environmental impacts while promoting energy efficiency. Today, the EPA is working on regulations to reduce large carbon dioxide emission sources which center around coal-fired power plants.Like most mid-western states, we rely on coal-fired plants for electricity. Based on the EPA’s website, it appears we receive energy from electrical producers that emit 142 percent more emissions than the national average. Whether or not one believes in global warming, with increasing regulation on carbon dioxide emissions this could represent a financial as well as an environmental problem for our members. I feel we should strengthen our progressive endeavors by being proactive to protect our members’ environmental and economic interests by securing additional access to electrical generation sources that are non-carbon emission sources. Ideally, I feel we should have incentives for members and entities to produce renewable power that is free of carbon emissions within the boundaries of our co-op. This would protect us from the volatility of the future changes in the energy markets.How should Holy Cross plan for possibility of future legislation requiring utilities to get a greater percentage of their electricity from renewable sources? I think we should not only meet the mandated requirements, but look for ways to capitalize on the opportunity and find ways to minimize our members’ exposure to the volatility of the future changes in the energy markets. While the economy has virtually stopped growth in Holy’s Cross’ service area, how should the utility plan for the days when economy is healthier? The economy has hit home with me as well with our membership. Please understand while I support my statements above and in other publications, I do not want to mandate solar and wind generation for every building. I believe we can find ways in partnership with local municipalities, businesses, and members to foster development of these non-emission sources of electrical generation within our co-op. We might need to look at more progressive incentives for members and entities to produce renewable power and/or find ways to lock in sources of non-emission generation outside our co-op. We really need to diversify our mix of electrical generation while promoting energy efficiency among all our members.