Turnbull, Palmer and Clark selected in Holy Cross election
Carbondale cattle rancher Tom Turnbull won re-election to the Holy Cross Energy board of directors while Vail-area incumbent George Lamb was ousted, the utility announced Wednesday.
Turnbull, the board president and a Holy Cross board member for more than 30 years, won with 1,847 votes to Marshall Foote’s 1,284. That’s a margin of 59 to 41 percent.
Challenger Adam Palmer topped Lamb by a vote of 1,643 to 1,613.
Hal Clark of Woody Creek, the representative for the upper Roaring Fork Valley, was unopposed. Turnbull, Palmer and Clark earned three-year terms.
Palmer and Foote were viewed as part of a green wave of activism sweeping energy co-ops across Colorado. A publication called The Colorado Independent reported this month that “green” candidates have vied for the board positions of several power providers this year. In the Holy Cross race, Palmer and Foote were endorsed by conservationists and the Aspen Skiing Co.
Auden Schendler, Skico’s director of environmental affairs, said the utility-company elections are important because the power providers hold a key to solving climate change problems.
“This election is part of a revolution among Colorado rural electric co-ops, many of which are seeing previously unheard of challenges to the status quo.
“And progressives are winning,” he said. “Utility politics might seem mundane, but this is a really positive example of how the public can make a big difference on pressing problems.”
One of two candidates endorsed by the Skico won in last year’s Holy Cross election as well.
Turnbull said during the campaign that he supports renewable energy and green initiatives, but they must be balanced with steps that keep electricity affordable for Holy Cross members. He reiterated Wednesday that green projects must make sense for Holy Cross.
“I plan to push on with that thrust when something good comes up,” Turnbull said.
Turnbull suggested his goals are similar to those of environmental advocates, although he might arrive there from a different path. “The dialogue needs to shift from green, green, green to national security and energy independence,” he said.
One of the first items the board of directors will likely discuss is the impact from the surge in solar photovoltaic projects in the Holy Cross territory, he said. Holy Cross set aside $1.1 million in rebates for solar electric projects this year. All those funds were allocated through the preapplication process by the end of May. Turnbull said he needs to hear from the Holy Cross staff before he decides how to address that issue.
Palmer will take a seat on the board June 17 with strong environmental credentials. He is the environmental policy planner for Eagle County and the former environmental director for Vail Resorts, the ski area operator and real estate development firm. He ran on a green agenda, vowing to develop “real energy efficiency incentives and clean renewable power” for the cooperative’s members.
Holy Cross is an energy cooperative with 43,000 members in the Roaring Fork, Eagle and Lower Colorado River valleys. The company provides electricity to the majority of households between Aspen and Glenwood Springs. Members were eligible to cast their votes in the June 5 election. Votes were counted by an outside firm on Tuesday and released to the public Wednesday.
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