Enviros wrest control of Aspen and Vail's electric co-op

By David O. Williams
Real AspenJuly 1, 2010
Tom Turnbull

The board of directors of Holy Cross Energy, a rural electric cooperative with more than 40,000 members between Vail and Aspen, has officially “flipped” from old-school conventional-energy conservatives to a majority of progressive directors favoring a greater mix of renewable energy.

Environmental candidate David Munk of Missouri Heights defeated incumbent Robert Starodoj of Aspen by 2,115 votes to 1,292 in the co-op’s Southern District, and incumbent Michael Glass — a moderate, green-leaning Vail banker — turned back two challengers in the Northern District. Glass got 1,683 votes to 1,179 for environmental engineer Erik Lundquist and 589 for retired telecommunications CEO Bill Maxwell.

Four of the seven co-op board members now could be considered progressive. However, until recently, the board president was Carbondale rancher Tom Turnbull, who gets some credit for nudging Holy Cross down the “New Energy Economy” road but also is criticized by environmentalists for the co-op’s $100 million investment in the Comanche 3 coal-fired power plant, for some of his comments on climate change and for his support of incumbents in the most recent board election.
Harold Clark

In what some observers say was a blatant bid to dilute the “Aspen-ization” of the board, Holy Cross asked members if they favored a bylaw change to make voting in-district only instead of across the entire service area. The very vocally environmental Aspen Skiing Company has backed several green candidates, including Munk, in recent elections. Members voted 1,849 to 1,709 not to recommend a bylaw change.

Another player in Aspen's green community, Aspen Center for Environmental Studies board chairman Ken Ransford, also vouched for Munk.

Under the board's new leadership, director Harold F. Clark of Aspen was recently voted in as president and Turnbull is now secretary, according to the Holy Cross Energy website.

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