Orcas Power and Light Cooperative (OPALCO) will elect two directors at its annual meeting on Saturday, May 17, on the ferry. The opportunity to elect the board of directors is a unique feature of the cooperative member-owned electric utilities.
All OPALCO cooperative members are invited and encouraged to attend in person at the annual meeting, or to end in an absentee ballot, which will be sent out to every member with OPALCO’s annual reports in the first week of May.
The election of two directors will be decided during the business meeting. OPALCO’s governing board consists of seven directors who are elected for three-year terms, with the elections staggered. Each director is elected by a vote of OPALCO Members. Present directors are David Hylton and Nourdine Jensen — District 1 (San Juan, Brown, Henry, Pearl and Spieden Islands); Roger Crosby and Chris Thomerson — District 2 (Orcas, Armitage, Big Double, Blakely, Fawn, Little Double, and Obstruction Islands); and Ed Marble and Bob Myhr — District 3 (Lopez, Decatur, Center, and Charles Islands).
Candidates for the two director positions are:
Dave Hylton (incumbent)
Hylton was raised on San Juan Island and graduated from Friday Harbor High School in 1957. During this time he worked the family farm, fished commercially, and played high school sports. In the early 1950s, Hylton would visit OPALCO’s Friday Harbor generating plant to marvel at its huge diesel engines. He also remembers watching as the first OPALCO cable was laid to San Juan Island.
After graduating from Washington State University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1961, Hylton began a 35-year career with Chevron Corporation where he managed operations, maintenance and construction of oil refineries and cross-country pipeline systems. Dave is now retired and lives at the north end of San Juan Island. In addition to serving as a Director of OPALCO, he is a Director of the San Juan Historical Museum and is President of Limestone Point Water Company, Inc.
Hylton was first elected in May, 2005. If re-elected, Hylton says he will continue to direct OPALCO toward five fundamental objectives:
deliver reliable electricity to all OPALCO Member/Owners; purchase and resell electricity at the lowest cost using good business practices; maintain safe facilities and apply safe operating practices; ensure the Cooperative remains financially healthy;
and encourage Members to make wise choices about using electrical energy.
Hylton says, “OPALCO is facing several issues which will require considerable Board time and effort. Currently the Northwest enjoys low-cost, renewable, federal hydro power which is managed by Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). The demand on this system will soon be greater than its capacity. Furthermore, the Board anticipates that there will be political pressure to export BPA hydro power to the eastern and southern states which will aggravate the power deficit, likely increasing costs for the Cooperative.
“OPALCO’s member demographics have changed. A significant number of seasonal and part-time occupancy dwellings use below-average amounts of energy on an annual basis. Because of this, the board must re-evaluate how the Cooperative’s fixed costs are recovered so that all Members share this cost fairly.
“The green power that OPALCO makes available to Members is expected to become much less available and more expensive over time.”
With his wife, Pauline, Mulligan has lived in Friday Harbor for the past twelve years. As a “second career,” he works as a charter pilot for Island Air. With the San Juan Eagles, he regularly fly island cancer patients for radiation therapy on the mainland.
Mulligan is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School. His first career was as founding partner and CEO of Mulligan Griffin & Assoc., a Washington, DC-based real estate development firm. The company specialized in the development, construction, ownership, and leasing of specialized office, data, and laboratory facilities for larger business and government organizations. Customers included IBM, GE, GTE, NASD, various intelligence organizations and the Human Genome Project. Pro-bono, in partnership with local charitable organizations, the company developed single room occupancy housing facilities for the homeless in the District of Columbia.
Mulligan says,”Through my business experience, I have a working familiarity with business policy, control and treasury functions, complex project management, and construction. Were I to be elected to the OPALCO Board, I believe my primary contribution would be in the area of business practice and sound financial management. I would look forward to the opportunity to serve our community in this position.”
A resident of San Juan Island for twenty-two years, Gregory arrived from Idaho in 1986. With his wife, Colleen Howe-Gregory, he owns and operates Mitchell Bay Farm & Nursery. In addition to the farm, Gregory work for the San Juan Islands Conservation District as a certified conservation planner. Previous to this, he worked for ten years with a local ISP and computer services company in technical services, sales and support roles. He received a bachelor’s degree from Boise State University.
He is a member of the SJC Noxious Weed Board, the Agricultural Resources Committee and the SJC Economic Development Council. He is also a board member and original founding member of the Island Grown Farmer’s Cooperative (IGFC)—the nonprofit livestock cooperative that helped create and build, along with the Lopez Community Land Trust, the first USDA inspected Mobile Slaughter Unit in the United States. He also serves as a board member of the Northwest Agricultural Business Center in Mt. Vernon, Wash.
Gregory says, “As a member of OPALCO, I have kept informed of our collective need to conserve power as the first and best option for energy conservation. The process of installing energy saving upgrades in my own house and farm, including lighting, insulation and even alternative solar generation has had a positive outcome. I have a great respect for the staff and board members for the day-to-day operation of our co-op through calm days and storms! I also have a grasp on what we, as members of the cooperative, have as a responsibility as power consumers.
“It is my hope that my perspective will be of some use in helping OPALCO transition during an age of energy change. We must look for new alternatives in green power from wind, solar, tidal and other new sources in the effort to keep the power coming and OPALCO healthy.”
OPALCO is a member-owned cooperative electrical utility serving more than 10,000 islanders on 20 islands in San Juan County. OPALCO provides mostly renewable electricity that is 97 percent greenhouse-gas free and is predominately generated by hydro-electric plants. OPALCO was founded in 1937 to bring electricity to rural islanders and is one of 900 electric co-ops in the United States today.