Vail power board incumbent wants to maintain balance, flexibility
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 Michael Glass, the incumbent from the Vail Valley.
Name: Michael Glass.
Employment: President, Alpine Bank Vail
Other: Married, father of two children under the age of five.
Why do you want this job? Over the past three years on the Holy Cross Energy Board, I have earned my Credentialed Cooperative Director Certification through the National Rural Electrical Cooperative Association. Additionally, I have an extensive background in banking and finance. These experiences give me a unique perspective how to manage a fiscally responsible organization within the complex energy industry. Holy Cross Energy is an industry leader in many ways, and I want to continue as a director to help position Holy Cross as a leader for the future.
My personal philosophy over my past term on the Holy Cross Energy board has been to maintain flexibility and balance within the organization. This has been applied to every aspect of the organization from power supply to finances, and from customer service to employee benefits. The co-op will face numerous challenges over the next few years: state and national legislation, local and regional renewable energy options, and maintaining affordable rates for our customers. I intend to address these issues, and all others that will arise, with common sense, a social conscience, and fiscal responsibility.
What do people need to know about Holy Cross? Holy Cross has a rich history within the Roaring Fork, Vail and Colorado River Valleys. As a cooperative it is owned by its members and governed by the members by way of the board of directors. Any excess revenue earned is returned back to the members in the form of member equity distribution checks, which are sent out twice a year. Holy Cross is an industry leader in this category and the member equity distribution check is immensely popular with customers.
For more than 70 years Holy Cross has provided reliable, affordable and environmentally sound energy to its members. As energy technology has changed, so has the energy mix and the sources of power supplied to members. Holy Cross Energy employees are all extremely dedicated to the community, care a great deal about the members and excel at delivering outstanding customer service.
The Holy Cross Energy Board of Directors’ goal of reaching 20 percent renewable energy by the year 2015 is just one example of a strong commitment to the environment. This goal was set before much of today’s popular interest in renewable energy, and demonstrates the board’s ability to choose lofty, but realistic goals for the organization.
How should Holy Cross plan for possibility of future legislation requiring utilities to get a greater percentage of their electricity from renewable sources? Holy Cross has been preparing for potential legislation for a number of years and has been working to take advantage local opportunities in this area. In the last three years, the amount of renewable energy produced in our service territory has increased over one megawatt, which represents a 400 percent increase. The board has authorized over $2 million for the WE CARE (With Efficiency Conservation And Renewable Energy) program for 2010, and the amount of funds spent on renewable energy and conservation has increased by 400 percent since I have been on the board.
Maintaining flexibility and balance in the mix of our power sources will allow Holy Cross Energy to be nimble and better prepared to meet whatever legislation is passed. As the timeline for electric utility investments and their implementation is fairly long, putting too many eggs in one basket could have serious ramifications for current and future Holy Cross members. We are best prepared by improving our overall efficiency and diversifying our energy sources amongst the best of our present and emerging technologies.
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? When the economy is in full swing, energy consumption will increase with more building, more production and more demand. In the future, consumers will continue to increase their reliance on electricity-powered technology in daily life. In order to manage the effects of ongoing increases in energy demand, Holy Cross Energy has been working for years to curb electricity use and provide incentives for decreased demand. The WECARE program, mentioned above, pays members incentives for energy-efficient appliances, solar power, and other individually enacted renewable generation projects.
A tiered rate structure is another avenue which has the potential to reduce the amount of energy consumed by Holy Cross members. Under a tiered rate structure the more electricity a member consumes, the higher the cost for the next tier of energy used. This structure must be managed carefully not to inadvertently penalize lower income members, but can be an effective method of energy consumption management.
Overall, to best position Holy Cross Energy for the future, I intend to take a flexible and balanced approach to energy consumption, energy sources, and emerging technologies.