Norm Weaver, Yampa Valley Electric Association board candidate, District 6
Bio: As a professional engineer, energy specialist and program manager Norm Weaver has worked in Colorado’s new energy economy for more than 20 years. Weaver’s experience includes helping manage nation-leading energy efficiency and solar programs for Fort Collins Utilities, developing building energy analysis tools at the National Renewable Energy Lab and providing energy outreach for Western Area Power Authority. He currently serves on the board of Energy Smart Colorado, which offers home and business energy assessments and manages efficiency incentives in many western Colorado communities. Weaver and his wife, Lynette, raised two daughters in Steamboat Springs and have called the Yampa Valley home for 25 years.
Q. Why do you want to serve on the YVEA board?
A. Today, Northwest Colorado is confronting the triple crises of disruptive shifts in energy markets — with the slated closure of the Hayden and Craig power stations around 2030 — a punishing recession,and a deteriorating climate and water cycle. Families and businesses are feeling the impact now and there are no easy answers. It’s going to take some long range thinking and proactive choices to come out the other side with a strong and resilient regional economy.
I think our electric co-op, YVEA, is a key regional player in this time of transition. I am running because I think YVEA can be a strong partner to both households and business through customer programs and local investment in the electric grid while keeping energy affordable. While local initiatives may be only part of the answer to the energy market shift we see ahead, these local initiatives can translate into much needed local jobs in energy efficiency investments, electrification, and renewable energy projects.
I’m running for our YVEA board of directors to bring my utility engineering and management experience to the important long range choices that our co-op board will be considering.
Q. What past experience makes you the ideal candidate?
A. As a professional engineer, energy specialist and program manager, I have worked in Colorado’s new energy economy for more than 20 years. My experience includes helping manage nation-leading energy efficiency and solar programs for Fort Collins Utilities, developing building energy analysis tools at the National Renewable Energy Lab and providing energy outreach for Western Area Power Authority. I currently serve on the board of Energy Smart Colorado, which offers home and business energy assessments and manages efficiency incentives in many western Colorado communities. I and my wife Lynette raised two daughters in Steamboat and have called the Yampa Valley home for 25 years.
In recent years YVEA has committed to system investments to improve reliability of service, and these are important activities to continue. YVEA has also launched the Luminate Broadband service to member homes and businesses that previously had limited options for information
Q. What do you believe are the most pressing issues YVEA faces in the near and long term?
A. In recent years YVEA has committed to system investments to improve reliability of service and these local electric grid improvements are important activities to continue. YVEA has also launched age connectivity. With the impacts of the current pandemic, we’ve seen how important connectivity is to online learning and to the work-from-home trend that is likely to continue.
In the longer term, the question is how our local distribution utility will fit into a grid that is increasingly moving toward clean energy technologies and what local clean energy choices co- op members will have.
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. On near term system reliability, affordability and broadband, we must continue to make fiscally responsible choices. On longer term choices, I would bring to the conversation my direct industry experience with programs that help households and businesses to be smart about energy. The direction YVEA chooses should be in-line with what the membership will support.
Q. What are your views on renewable energy, considering the state is transitioning to a cleaner energy grid?
A. I support a transition to a cleaner electric grid. It will be the backbone for other shifts toward more energy efficient buildings and clean transportation options. It must however, be the “just transition” that is being discussed statewide including commitments by the wholesale utilities in Northwest Colorado — Xcel Energy and Tri-State. Regional projects like utility scale solar, energy storage and so-called ancillary services can bring back some jobs and tax revenue. A transition to solar and wind generation can bring a “green dividend” (energy from solar and wind can cost half of conventional generation) keeping energy costs stable. Local efficiency investments can also generate good paying trade jobs.
Q. How would you either support or oppose local renewable energy production?
A. I think local households and businesses should be able to pursue renewable projects that make sense to them. I would be a voice to remove barriers that may make pursuing these projects unnecessarily more difficult. This might mean having a round-table conversation about what’s working and what could be improved. I would encourage YVEA to engage members on the interest in a new community solar garden. Within the bounds of good fiscal policy, I think YVEA can be responsive to member’s interest in local clean energy options.
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Routt County voters will have the option to elect new school board members, city and town council members and choose whether or not to support three state ballot initiatives in the Nov. 2 election.