Jean Stetson, Yampa Valley Electric Association board candidate, District 3
Bio: Jean Stetson is a Colorado native and has lived in the Yampa Valley for 40 years. She is the accountant for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Colorado.
Stetson has demonstrated her dedication to her community by serving on various boards including: Northwest Colorado Health Board of Directors; Moffat County Land Use Board; treasurer, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association; Yampa/White/Green River Basin Roundtable; Wildlife Habitat Stamp Committee; CPW Greater Sage Grouse working groups; and member of the Colorado Wolf Management Plan working group.
Stetson’s background in accounting and her board and collaboration experience, makes her a valuable YVEA board member. She completed the Credentialed Cooperative Director Program, which consisted of five courses. The courses provided the essential knowledge required to be an effective cooperative director.
Stetson is part of a team that has: implemented a plan to upgrade an aging infrastructure to increase system reliability, re-opened the Craig service center and started Luminate Broadband to bring high speed fiber internet service to the communities of Northwest Colorado. The service will be a valuable economic addition to the area, as well as a valuable addition to the YVEA infrastructure.
Q. Why do you want to serve on the YVEA board?
A. I am the incumbent for District 3 and would consider it a privilege to continue to serve on the Yampa Valley Electric Association board. I have a profound respect for the task that the founders of the electric co-ops accomplished when they electrified rural America. I believe in the co-op business model. This model is rooted in democratic control and member ownership. I take the job of providing reliable, safe, clean, affordable electricity to our members very seriously. When serving our members, it is important to promote balance and to acknowledge the diverse views and needs that are present in our 7,000-square-mile territory. As a director, it is my duty to listen to all our members and I will continue to do my best to serve the members in a balanced, responsible manner.
Q. What past experience makes you the ideal candidate?
A. The directors of a co-op are tasked with creating the policies that guide the co-op and with overseeing the business affairs of the co-op. Directors must adhere to the by-laws of the co-op when making their decisions. I believe my accounting background and my experience of serving on various boards over the years makes me a valuable board member and helps me responsibly oversee the affairs of the co-op. I am a credentialed director, and this status is accomplished by completing five courses. The courses have given me the knowledge needed to be an effective, informed director.
Q. What do you believe are the most pressing issues YVEA faces in the near and long term?
A. YVEA has an aging infrastructure, and this needs to be addressed in order to provide reliable service to our members. YVEA will need to continue to be involved with promoting economic diversity to help our communities survive and thrive in the future. The mandated process of decarbonization will deeply impact the local economies in the Yampa Valley.
In the long term, I believe YVEA will need to strategically plan for continued beneficial, efficient use of electricity, while still following its mission and continue to be responsive to the needs of its members
Q. How would you address these issuesQ
A. It must be a priority for YVEA to continue to budget the funds necessary to continue updating the aging system.
Currently, YVEA’s company, Luminate, is installing the fiber backbone infrastructure which will bring high speed fiber internet service to Northwest Colorado. The YVEA directors will continue to oversee the buildout of this vital project that will encourage economic diversity in the communities.
Accomplishing beneficial, efficient use of electricity will require that YVEA stay adaptive to the ever-changing regulatory environment and become the local expert for new, carbon-free technology.
YVEA must be mindful of its mission, which is continued excellent service to members and providing safe, clean, reliable and affordable power
YVEA must continue to be responsive to the future needs of its members by fulfilling YVEA’s recent strategic goal of gradually installing more vehicle charging stations in the territory to help support the growing numbers of electric vehicles and encouraging member outreach and communication.
Members of the Yampa Valley Electric Association will be electing three members to the board of directors in a mail-in election. Debbie Cook is running unopposed for the District 2 seat. Candidates for the District 3 seat include Jean Stetson and Kirstie McPherson, and candidates for the District 6 seat are Tom Fox and Norm Weaver.
YVEA board election ballots were mailed to members and they should be mailed back by Sept. 10 to ensure they are received by the Sept. 17 deadline. Ballots can also be voted in person at YVEA’s annual meeting, which will be held Sept. 22 at the Valley Community Center in Baggs, Wyoming. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.
Q. What are your views on renewable energy, considering the state is transitioning to a cleaner energy grid?
A. This is a topic that is passionately debated by the diverse members in our territory. The state of Colorado passed legislation (HB 1261) that calls for a statewide climate action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. YVEA’s power provider is Xcel Energy. Xcel has the goals of 80% less carbon by 2030 and 100% carbon free by 2050. YVEA’s Purchase Power Agreement with Xcel allows YVEA to be a distributor of clean power. However, Xcel has acknowledged that 100% carbon-free electricity will require technologies not yet commercially available.
No one knows what or when future technologies might be available to help Xcel meet the carbon-free goals. It is critical for YVEA to continue to stay informed as decarbonization evolves and to continue to gain a thorough understanding of how these laws and goals will impact its ability to purchase and deliver clean, reliable, affordable power to the co-op members in our territory.
Q. How would you either support or oppose local renewable energy production?
A. The ability for YVEA to have local renewable energy production is driven by the contract that YVEA has with Xcel. The current contract allows for a 3% carveout for local renewable projects. As a director for YVEA, I will continue to support negotiations with Xcel for a change in the contract to allow YVEA to have a larger carveout percentage for renewable projects.
As a director, I will also be prudent and request that YVEA conduct the necessary due diligence to help ensure that any future local renewable projects are feasible and not a financial burden to the members. I believe it is important that YVEA be involved in the early analysis of any future renewable projects. YVEA should help guide these projects and determine the best way to tie projects into the YVEA infrastructure. It should also be noted that YVEA currently has active renewable projects in its service territory.
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Editor’s note: The story was updated at 8:33 p.m.