Kirstie McPherson, Yampa Valley Electric Association board candidate, District 3
Bio: Kirstie McPherson is a Yampa Valley native, born and raised in Craig. She has a background in community and economic development in which she continues to use in her full-time consulting work with communities across the country, primarily focusing on industry transition needs. McPherson also works with many Touchstone Co-Op communities and knows the value electric co-ops have as a leader and provider within the communities they serve. She recently completed her master’s degree in behavioral economics through the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. McPherson owns and operates several downtown businesses in Craig including The Find, Co. and 518 Wine Bar, with plans on developing several other experience-driven businesses. She serves as treasurer for Colorado Northwestern Community College and Moffat County Board of Control, president of Craig’s Young Professional Network and she is involved with numerous groups such as the Arts Council, workforce initiatives and various community committees.
Q. Why do you want to serve on the YVEA board?
A. I’m running for the YVEA board, District 3, because I, as a community member, business leader and economic development professional, realize we have the capacity to be a leader and do so much more for our region based on our energy. How our energy is created, bought and stored is important now more than ever, and continually trying to improve our valley, where we all call home, is important to each of us. My experience with other electric co-ops, economic development and transitioning economies make me a strong candidate for this position.
Q. What past experience makes you the ideal candidate?
A. Working in economic development throughout the country over the last decade has provided first class experience for working with electric co-ops, including multiple Touchstone Co-Ops. With this experience I’m able to look at a higher picture to see what has worked and what hasn’t worked for communities, regions and co-ops all over the country. Furthermore, I also work with communities who are typically transitioning economies, from one industry such as energy, to something new, this is a very relevant conversation for our region as well, one that I have direct experience with to be able to contribute to specific areas such as YVEA.
Q. What do you believe are the most pressing issues YVEA faces in the near and long term?
A. Preparing for what is coming and changes that are happening with how our energy is both produced and stored will be a pressing issue and conversation from now on. Ensuring that our communities are ready for this change as well as preparing necessary infrastructure is critical. In my opinion, the board has two major jobs to address: one, how we are operating today to provide safe, reliable and cost-appropriate electricity and services to members; and two, how we are able to ensure our decisions today are positively impacting the communities in 10 years, 20 years and beyond.
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. How would you address these issues?
A. We know that times are changing; we know that there are very specific laws that are coming to fruition and regulations that will have a major impact on our energy future. Looking at both now and the future from an electricity standpoint, economic standpoint and technology standpoint are how decisions will need to be made. We also have to take a step back and see what can reasonably be done and produced from decisions that have been made in the past, to continue to do what has worked and change what has not worked.
Q. What are your views on renewable energy, considering the state is transitioning to a cleaner energy grid?
A. We have the upperhand in knowing the transition is coming. Where we purchase our energy and how we obtain that will be largely up to the contracts that we make in the future, as well as identifying areas in which we can produce our own energy. In terms of the grid, I think it is valuable for each member to fully recognize how much power from various sources is being put into this and what that looks like and what makes sense for our area. We’ve historically been a coal-reliant region with multiple mines and power plants are present in our valley. Changing to renewable energy beyond coal is inevitable, and ensuring that our energy continues to be reliable, safe and cost effective is a must.
Q. How would you either support or oppose local renewable energy production?
A. Technology is changing every day, it is our job to take a look at these areas and determine what works and doesn’t work for our members – I fully support renewable energy production that is safe, affordable, and reliable, while also ensuring our other valuable resources such as our public lands and agriculture. Identifying the best resources for our valley will be a critical step in moving forward with our energy future, including renewable energy.
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