Q&A: Mike Kempe, District 1 IREA candidate

Posted 3/25/19

Residence: Unincorporated Jefferson County Profession: Scientist Related or past experience: Senior Scientist for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory located in Golden. Studies solar …

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Q&A: Mike Kempe, District 1 IREA candidate

Posted

Residence: Unincorporated Jefferson County

Profession: Scientist

Related or past experience: Senior Scientist for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory located in Golden. Studies solar photovoltaic energy and works on durability and standards development. Received Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology.

Why are you seeking re-election for this position?

I am seeking re-election because I want to continue my important work on the board to help position the co-op to fully take advantage of the renewable energy resources that are available. My career as a scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory provides a much-needed perspective on the board with an understanding of the engineering aspects of providing electricity and a good view and understanding of upcoming technology. It is important for the cooperative to have leadership that is poised to take on the new challenges facing electric cooperatives.

What is the most important issue facing the IREA?

The most important issues facing the cooperative are how to integrate new renewable energy resources to take full advantage of the potential cost savings. We are receiving proposals for solar photovoltaic electricity power purchase agreements at prices less than 3 cents/kWh and have approved construction of 110 MW over the next two years. Solar prices are so low, there is no longer a need for federal incentives to sustain growth. With a current average cost of power of about 6.5 cents/kWh, there is great potential for cost savings. Battery technology is close behind in development and capable of becoming a large contributor to the grid reaching grid parity in the next few years. The electric car is fast becoming a significant contributor to electricity usage bringing its own set of opportunities and challenges. Lastly, there is a need to improve the free market functionality of wholesale power supplies. Colorado and IREA are in need of a Regional Transmission Organization to help enable the integration of renewable energy sources as the low-cost leaders and to make sure the lowest cost energy sources are utilized for all Coloradans to help keep electricity rates low. If IREA can position itself well, we will ensure continued low rates for our members.

What is your first priority if elected?

My priority is to position IREA to keep rates low by planning for the future of the electricity grid. Changes are happening at an unprecedented rate, requiring creative and thoughtful solutions to prepare for an unknown future. We have an excellent team at IREA who are very capable and forward looking and are in the process of gathering the data necessary for the board to make good informed decisions. We need to stay on top of technology trends to be able to strategically take advantage of the right technologies at the right time. With proper planning for the future, we will keep rates low for a long time to come.

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