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Incumbents retain Valley Electric board seats

Valley Electric Association District 1 and 3 incumbent directors retained their offices following Thurday’s elections.

District 1 representative Pete Gazsy, who has held the position for the past six years, captured the majority vote with 448 votes cast in his favor on March 26. He outpaced candidates Nick Moore (352 votes), Allan Parker (102 votes), Tim Wigchers (66 votes) and Marla Zlotek (313 votes).

Gazsy represents southern Pahrump which has 9,049 member-customers. In order to hold a meeting, a quorum of 2 percent, or 181 members, was required. Board President John Maurer reported that 1,291 votes were cast, which counted toward the required quorum. The number was impressive, Maurer said, representing an increase of approximately 200 members “present” over the district’s last election.

Prior to the election, Chief Executive Officer Tom Husted fielded questions from attendees regarding the cost of the company’s campus expansion, which is expected to be completed by October. The company has taken out long-term loans to finance the project which is anticipated to cost between $10 million and $11 million.

Other expansion projects include a solar plant, characterized as supplemental renewable energy, and extension of fiberoptics, or broadband service, for customers. Husted conceded that the solar project will also cut into company revenue, but the company will be able to sell that power at favorable rates.

Company representatives also reported on initiatives for continuity of service. In 2014 customers had electric service 99.984-percent of the time according to Chris Tomchuk, VEA’s executive vice president of operations and engineering. Factors contributing to power outages, he said, were trees, weather events, animals and an occasional car-electric pole accident.

The company operates two 24-hour control centers and one backup control center to detect electric transmission interruptions. When a loss of power occurs, Tomchuk said, it is typically restored within one and one-half hours.

Several changes have occurred over the past year which have allowed the company to position itself in a financially favorable light, with long-term low-cost loans. Those changes include acquisition of the distribution system for Creech Air Force Base, a contract award for the Nevada National Security Site and inclusion in the California Independent System Operator electric power market.

Company equity has remained stable over the past four years, Husted said, while company assets have increased from $12 million to $270 million.

Husted reported that VEA has increased its workforce by approximately 30 percent in the past several years and has still been able to reduce costs instead of increasing electric rates. Because of sound financial practices, he said, a rate increase will not have to be considered until 2018.

As part of the company’s financial year-end report, Executive Chief Operating Officer Rick Eckert reported that residential energy sales have decreased by 6 percent. He attributed the decline to moderating temperatures.

District 3 (Beatty) elections took place on March 25 with incumbent Richard Johnson holding on to his seat with 95 votes over the 24 votes cast for challenger Neil King.

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