AT LA PLATA ELECTRIC ASSOCIATION
4 Durango’s LED
Listening to you
By GreG MUnro, Chief exeCUtive offiCer
ctober is National Cooperative Month, a time
when all co-ops nationwide celebrate this unique
4 Capital Credits refund corporate structure: the rural electric association.
LPEA was formed originally as a cooperative by our
4 La Plata County Fair
members in 1939 to supply reliable electric power to
4 Lemon hydro power outlying rural residents. While the industry (and thus LPEA)
continues to evolve, we’ve never questioned the original
4 Don’t fence it in… decision to form a cooperative. It remains a viable business
model that even in these challenging economic times
allows us to keep electricity flowing to you at a most
cost effective price.
But just because we’ve got some history under our
belts doesn’t mean we don’t still welcome input from our
PO Box 2750
Durango, Colorado 81302-2750 members about how we could do things better. To that
end, this past summer we commissioned a “Residential
street address: Member Satisfaction Survey,” performed independently by the National Rural Electric
45 Stewart Street | Durango, Colorado 81303
603 S. 8th Street | Pagosa Springs, Colorado 81147
Cooperative Association (NRECA). Telephone surveying was used as the data collection
technique, and statistics analyzed based on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).
970.247.5786 | www.lpea.coop I’m pleased to report that overall satisfaction has remained steady in comparison to past
studies, and our ACSI rating is 83, which is much higher than the industry average of 73.
Board of directors:
Terry Alley, president — District 1 Thank you for your vote of confidence and it’s our every intention to maintain and improve
Jerry McCaw, vice president — District 2 that standard.
Pam Patton, secretary — District 4 In the survey, members were asked to evaluate 22 performance quality attributes,
Joe Wheeling, treasurer — District 4
Jeff Berman, director — District 3
including customer service, image, electric service, communication, billing and cost. On all
Herb Brodsky, director — District 4 but two of the attributes measured, the mean ratings exceeded 4.00, classified as a “good”
Harry Goff, director — District 1 rating on the 5-point scale. Additionally, mean ratings for six of the attributes were higher
Tom Compton, director — District 2 than 4.50, which they tell us can be considered excellent.
Bob Formwalt, director — District 1
Harry Cole, director — District 3 All this doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement, and from the survey we are
Bobby Lieb, director — District 3 hearing that keeping members informed on the status of outages and having reasonable
Davin Montoya, director — District 2 monthly service fees remain the top issues.
Last year we did implement the new OMS (Outage Management System), which does
next Board Meeting:
9 a.m. | Monday, October 18, 2010 help us keep you informed – but we need you to work with us for this to perform at its peak
LPEA headquarters, Durango capacity. The OMS relies on having current phone numbers (to contact you with extended
outage information), and it works best if you will call in an extended outage (247.5786). So
La Plata Electric Association provides its members
please do call when you experience an outage. We then can hopefully keep those lines of
safe, reliable electricity at the lowest reasonable communication flowing while we’re affecting repairs.
cost while being environmentally responsible. Regarding “costs,” i.e. charging reasonable rates and fees, your cost-conscious Board
of Directors and staff are constantly keeping this in mind. We’re now in the process of
ve Your E
developing LPEA’s various budgets and strategic plans for 2011, and are striving to not have
Sa a rate increase in 2011. With, however, increased state and federal regulations, increased
maintenance costs, and decreasing sales, we may not be able to hold that line, unless we
decrease some services that we provide.
A cooperative works best when its members stay involved. Please do. We thank you for
your input with the survey. And please keep reading Colorado Country Life… we’ll keep you
informed of “Watt’s Up.”4
2 Watt’s Up
oes it seem Downtown Durango has a new “glow”? It’s not your imagination. The
“lighting” has indeed changed, as nearly all of the “old” high pressure sodium lights
housed within the historic street lamps have been replaced with energy efficient light
emitting diodes (LEDs).
“The new fixtures have been designed and manufactured specifically for this application,”
Lorraine Gurule says Roy Petersen, director of general services with the City of Durango. “They fit into the existing
historic, acorn-shaped ‘globes’ and generally should require less maintenance and have a longer
average lifespan. And they are Dark Skies compliant.”
And, even better news, the new lights are already reducing energy consumption. Though the
100 new retrofitted lights have been in place for merely months, LPEA has monitored the
electricity consumption and estimated significant energy savings for the City.
“We’ll want to watch the lights and the consumption for the next year to confirm the numbers,
but from the preliminary data, with the new lights the
City will see an average annual electricity reduction of
30,660 kilowatt hours,” says Mark Schwantes, manager
of corporate services, noting the lights are illuminated
daily from dusk ‘til dawn. “This is going to translate
into at least an approximate $3,000 reduction on the
City’s annual electric bill.”
Prior to installation, City officials researched and
tested the various options available on the market.
Lpea’s oCtoBer The final selection was offered by Sylvania, though the
eMpLoyee company ended up manufacturing special fixtures for
anniversaries the 122 historic lights in the Central Business District,
and the City was able to purchase them locally through
steve GreGG CED, which was instrumental in streamlining the
Manager of Operations installation process.
One hundred are in place, and an additional 22
Lisa MaCkey photos
will soon be installed in the Buckley Park area. Local
electric contractor Durango Electric Service handled
Engineering Clerk From an energy standpoint, LED light bulbs are
25 Years more efficient, durable, versatile and longer lasting The difference in the lights is clearly seen as those in the
than incandescent and other fluorescent bulbs. foreground are the new LEDs.
Betsy LoveLaCe They can also emit light in a specific
Customer Service Supervisor direction, as opposed to incandescent
25 Years and CFLs that send light in all directions.
The light output from LEDs also remains
donnie LUCero constant over time, only decreasing
Lead Meter Reader toward the end of their rated lifetime.
19 Years “There have also been studies that
the human eye sees better in the white
Linda WeLLs light as opposed to the yellow glow of These photos are not “Photoshopped” and are of the same light, one photo-
Executive Secretary high-pressure sodium bulbs,” says Ray graphed in March 2010, one in August. Can you tell which is the new LED?
14 Years Pierotti, project specialist. “Thus, Down-
town Durango should also prove to be safer with the new lighting.”
traCy GrayBeaL The streetlight retrofit is thanks to a partnership of the City of Durango, LPEA and Tri-State
Network Administrator Generation and Transmission. LPEA and Tri-State each donated $25,000 for the effort, with the City
12 Years adding an additional $25,000.
“I think that this will be a wonderful way to show how the City of Durango took initiative to
JoeL Mann achieve energy efficiency for their community,” said Holly Carey, senior sales representative for
Osram Sylvania, the light manufacturer. 4
Meter Reader Collector
Membership has benefits
rchuleta and La Plata County businesses and used to finance needed improvements to LPEA’s system
residents, who have paid their electric bills to LPEA infrastructure.
for at least one year, are currently receiving patronage “In other words,” says Munro. “LPEA invests the margins
capital refunds. earned by each owner back into our system. It helps build
In August, the LPEA Board of Directors voted to refund members’ equity and reduces the amount of money LPEA
$2.475 million in patronage capital (also known as capital has to borrow – so it reduces interest charges we’d have to
credits).The majority of the patronage capital refunds were otherwise pay. The margins allow LPEA to maintain system
credited to electricity bills during the last billing cycle, reliability at its highest level and help keep rates low.”
though any refund amounts larger than $100 were mailed
as checks. In August, the LPEA Board of Directors
“These can in some ways be thought of as dividends for
our member-owners, but these refunds do differentiate us voted to refund $2.475 million in patronage
from other types of utilities,” says Greg Munro, CEO, noting capital (also known as capital credits)
that LPEA is a not-for-profit corporation with a 501 (c)(12) tax
designation. “As part of that tax designation, which Annually, should the patronage capital account reach a
establishes us as a cooperative, we are required to refund level in excess of the amount LPEA needs to maintain the
capital credits to our members as we can afford to do so. system, the cooperative “retires,” or gives back, a percentage
We give the money back to our members instead of giving it of the funds. For 2010, LPEA is retiring capital credits earned in
to investors as with for-profit companies.” 1990, as well as a portion of capital credits from 1991 through
Annually, the electricity payments made by members in 2009. Thus anyone with an established LPEA account in 2009
excess of the cost of providing their electric service (called the or prior, received funds in proportion to the member’s contri-
“margin”) is placed into a patronage capital account in each bution to LPEA margins. Since incorporation in 1939, LPEA has
member’s name. This capital, along with borrowed funds, is been able to refund nearly $30 million. 4
oct. 14 & 15, 20 & 21; nov. 4 & 5 – sight-in days at durango Gun Club’s
outdoor range. hunters, visit www.lpea.coop for details.
oCtoBer oct. 21 – heating and Cooling Workshop at La plata electric –
visit www.lpea.coop for details.
events of interest oct. 29 & 30 – electronics recycling at the City of durango recycle facility.
daylight saving time ends sunday, oct. 31 – set your clocks back one hour.
note: Before yoU vote, stUdy the issUes. aMendMents 60 & 61, proposition 101
WiLL have LastinG effeCts on oUr LoCaL CoMMUnities.
Lpea partiCipates in La pLata CoUnty fair
t o support area youth, as well as educate
the community, LPEA annually participates
at the La Plata County Fair. For 2010, staff
offered information on “energy efficiency”
in the Exhibit Hall, and sponsored the 4H
Barbecue, (plus prepared pounds of beef and
pork for the special annual lunch). 4
Dispatcher Darrick Robinson helps a young
LPEA Board member Davin Montoya (left) supervises CEO member select a prize after spinning the LPEA
Greg Munro as he slices the beef prepared for the 4H Barbecue. “wheel of fortune.”
4 Watt’s Up
Lpea noW reCeivinG hydro Generation
froM LeMon reservoir on the fLorida river
i n its on-going effort to improve efficiencies within its service territory, as well as respond to
member-owner requests to secure more “local” generation, La Plata Electric has entered into
a 20-year agreement to purchase electric power generated from Lemon Reservoir.
Lemon’s “power” has been feeding electricity into the grid since 1990 when its owners, Florida Water
Conservancy District, entered into a contract with now-defunct Colorado Ute Power (most of which
was absorbed by Tri-State G&T). Given legal regulations at the time, when Colorado Ute dissolved
Tri-State was required to purchase Lemon’s power directly, though today, regulations have changed.
Lemon is a 120 kW “small hydro” generator. It operates year-round and produces approximately
600,000 kilowatt hours annually. This averages out to enough energy to power nearly 860 homes
within LPEA’s service territory.
“Tri-State could simply revise and renew the previous contract with Lemon, but they are sensitive
to the need for local communities to have what we call a ‘distributed generation resource,’ or in other
words, our own local electricity generation,” says Mark Schwantes, LPEA manager of corporate services.
“Adding Lemon to our portfolio of local generation, which includes solar, wind and some additional
micro-hydro, will take us to 1 (one) megawatt of local renewable generation.”
LPEA will also purchase the Environmental Attributes (or Renewable Energy Credits – RECs)
Lemon Dam on the Florida River is a 120 from Lemon’s hydro, assisting LPEA and Tri-State in meeting its renewable requirements for the next
kilowatt “small hydro” generator. 10 years. 4
Don’t fence it in…
“ on’t fence me in” is a long-standing cliché related to freedom. When it comes to electrical equipment, however, it has everything
to do with safety, and the adage is indeed timeless.
“At LPEA we do a great deal of safety education related to overhead power lines, plus we’re always reminding folks to call
before they dig, so they don’t cut into underground lines,” says Steve Gregg, manager of operations. “But we also need to remind home
and business owners to keep their electric meters and other ground-level equipment clear of hazards and debris.”
Recently, while performing routine maintenance, LPEA crews discovered the equipment pictured below in the North Animas Valley,
well overgrown and literally an accident waiting to happen. In addition to the thick brush obstructing the ground-level transformer,
crews found the meter socket, the dark circular area beneath the meter, uncovered, the protective casing apparently broken, and
exposing electrical lines to any entity who might stick a finger, paw or beak in the space.
“An open meter socket such as this can also invite fire, as dry brush could blow in, or a vine twine its way in,” says Gregg, reminding
that a compromised meter could also cause an outage at the home or throughout the surrounding area. “Our crews are continually
inspecting the system, but with some 40,000 meters spread across our service territory, we can’t always find such damage as it occurs.”
Obstructions to electrical equipment are generally defined as fencing, shrubs, trees, vines, flowers, lawn ornaments and any other
materials or objects placed by residents around the surface mounted equipment. Obstructions hinder the ability of LPEA’s personnel
to adequately and safely repair, inspect or service the transformer and meter.
Contacting LPEA before planting around electrical equipment is
suggested, however, fencing, shrubbery and plantings, etc. can be done
by following some general guidelines:
• A minimum of 10 feet of unobstructed space in front of transformers
and junction boxes is required.
• Plantings or fencing may be placed around two sides and the back
provided that approximately three feet of clearance is maintained.
• Trees planted within 15 feet of the transformer may eventually require
removal if tree roots or foliage hinder service or maintenance of the
• The top of the transformer must be completely unobstructed.
• Any shrubs or bushes planted must not be of a variety that bears
This is an accident waiting to happen. Thankfully, the brush has now been
thorns or sharp protrusions of any kind, or be of a running
cleared and the meter socket repaired.
vine variety, such as ivy, which will grow over the transformer.
Obstructions found by LPEA crews may be removed without notice to the resident.
“Remember, if the electrical equipment is damaged or physically compromised, you’re running a dangerous risk of injury or
electrocution. Electricity is not something to ignore,” says Gregg.
To learn more, contact LPEA at 247.5786. 4