Election 2016: Truckee Donner PUD — read 4 candidate statements
Visit the following websites for your respective county to learn more about local elections, as well as upcoming important dates and other information:
Nevada County: mynevadacounty.com/nc/elections/Pages/Home.aspx
Placer County: placerelections.com/current-elections.aspx
El Dorado County: edcgov.us/elections
TRUCKEE, Calif. — Four residents are in the race to fill three seats on the Truckee Donner Public Utility District Board of Directors.
The general election is set for Nov. 8. For the TDPUD race, residents will be asked to vote for three of the four candidates; the top three vote-getters will be elected to the positions.
The three open seats are currently held by Joe Aguera, Jeff Bender and Bob Ellis, all of whom filed for reelection.
In California, early voting for the general elections began Oct. 10.
To better inform readers voting early or heading to the polls on Election Day, the Sierra Sun reached out to the candidates a couple weeks ago and asked each to provide a short biography, as well as a 500-word maximum candidate statement.
Below, you can read the candidates’ statements, which are printed verbatim (including typos and grammar errors) in random order:
Full name: Jeff Bender
Full-time residence in the region: Downtown Truckee
How long you have been a resident: 15 years
Current occupation: Engineer and General Contractor
Formal education: Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering
Current and previous political/governmental experience: I have served for 8 years as a Director for the Truckee Donner Public Utility District including three terms as President; 4 years as Special District Representative on LAFCO; 2 years as Commissioner on the Town of Truckee Planning Commission.
Serving on the TDPUD Board for the past 8 years has been both a challenging and extremely rewarding experience. Much has been accomplished during my time on the Board. In 2007, the TDPUD purchased less than 1% renewable energy. Now, almost 50% of our purchased power is renewable energy. Electric rates have remained the same for over 7 years, and the small water rate increases only occurred to allow us to keep up with inflation and the increasing need to repair and replace old, leaking water lines. Our methodology is working well as, despite an increasing population, we have reduced water production since 2008 by 40% and have cut our greenhouse gas footprint by over 65%.
I am a Professional Mechanical Engineer and licensed general contractor having run my own business in Truckee for the past 11 years. My business focuses on energy efficiency, renewable energy and green building. I have been a full-time Truckee resident since 2001, and live here with my wife and two children. Our extended family has owned a home in Truckee since 1976.
I believe in a balanced approach to environmental and economic impacts of the TDPUD. The 10-20 year outlook for the TDPUD is very positive due to the work that has been done over the past several years. Key issues facing the district will always include state and federal regulations such as greenhouse gas reduction, renewable energy requirements, energy conservation programs and water saving mandates when the state declares a drought emergency. Other issues facing the board this coming term will include new power purchases and the Squaw Valley development if a proposal is put forth for water. Additionally, our General Manager is retiring in 2020. The board has already identified and planned for the process of filling this position. I strongly believe my historic knowledge and work with the TDPUD will help ensure a thorough process in hiring a new GM and a smooth transition into new management.
During the past 8 years, I have learned, it is my technical knowledge of mechanical engineering, energy efficiency and construction which has allowed me to serve the TDPUD ratepayers most significantly. As we move closer towards management transition and continue to work hard to ensure rates remain stable and conservation and environmental issue are met with success, I believe the TDPUD Board needs to ensure it has a member who is able to understand and ask the technical questions to address the types of issues a public utility faces. As the only professional engineer and general contractor on the Board, I am able to meet this need.
I am excited for the future of this district and look forward to continuing to serve my community during the next 4 years.
For more information about me and to stay up to date on TDPUD matters, please visit my Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/Bender4PUD/
I appreciate your vote on November 8th!
Full name: James Ronald Hemig Jr.
Full-time residence in the region: The Strand, Glenshire, Truckee
How long you have been a resident: About 4 years total
Current occupation: Business Owner, Business Opportunity Brokers, Truckee
Formal education: Did not respond
Current and previous political/governmental experience: Did not respond
Why I am running for the Truckee Donner PUD?
For starters, I enjoy serving the community. I have a long history of giving back. I have sat on many community nonprofit boards in Nevada County, including a hospital foundation, Chamber of Commerce, hospice, downtown association and a natural science-focused board.
Serving the community is important to me. So are our natural resources. The Truckee Donner PUD supplies and manages two of our precious resources: water and power. I wish to give back to the community by helping us better manage and conserve these resources. My passion for conservation and the environment will be a benefit to PUD customers.
I also want to help the PUD contract with more renewable electricity providers. The power market is changing dramatically. Staying up on the trends and technology is an area in which I have much experience.
Whether it’s power or water conservation, communication to local residents and out-of-area homeowners will be a critical job of the PUD in the near and long-term future. Learning new regulations and methods of conserving water and electricity is only as good as the outreach to, and adoption by, the community. As a PUD board member I will vow to keep PUD customers up-to-date on important matters.
I am also fiscally conservative and would endeavor to keep water and power rates as low as possible. I have previous experience managing business operations very similar in size to our PUD. This experience will allow me to keep tabs on operational efficiencies and challenge the status quo to always look for new ways to provide superior service at the lowest price possible.
I also have a vested interest in Truckee for the long haul. I love Truckee. I do not intend to leave. I started my family here 20 years ago, then traveled around the west advancing my business career. Missing Truckee, my family and I came back to make this our home.
The most important reason to vote for me is the PUD is about to undergo upper management changes. Top management is set to retire shortly. It is the responsibility of the PUD board to hire a new General Manager. Hiring this position is critical to the long-term success of the PUD. I have extensive experience recruiting, interviewing and hiring senior managers. This is a job I am well-suited for and incredibly important to the future success of our PUD.
Lastly, I ask for your vote for the PUD Board because I would like to follow in my father’s footsteps. He served on the TDPUD for 20 years. In that time he led the board to stabilize the PUD during some difficult times. His efforts provided a solid launching point for the PUD moving forward. I would like to pick up where he left off and make sure our utility company is successful for the next 20 years.
Name: Joseph R. Aguera
Full-time residence in the region: Sierra Meadows
How long you have been a resident: 48 plus years
Current occupation: Retired
Formal education: Mortician
Current and previous political/governmental experience: Truckee Donner Public Utility District Director (TDPUD) since 1986. I have served on the Cemetery Board the Fire District as well as been a member of the Lion’s Club and Rotary.
In my tenure of serving the community on the TDPUD Board of Directors we have experienced a raft of changes manly the community’s desire for clean energy, transparency, community collaboration, conservation, and protection of vital water resources.
Serving on the Board, I have been a part of considerable changes in energy. In 2007, the District made renewable and carbon free resources a priority, starting the portfolio at 0.4% increasing it to 48% in 2015, way ahead of our regulatory requirement which is 33% by 2020. I am proud to say the District is in a great position for future regulatory requirements maintaining stable rates to the rate payers.
The District under the Board’s authority has actively participated in California’s AB32 Cap-n-Trade program. This program has allowed the District to increase revenue on the power side to almost a million dollars in 2015. This allows the District to use these funds to off-set the increased costs of renewable energy keeping electric costs down for our constituents.
Conservation efforts have been on the forefront of my service, the District has implemented many programs including: solar, refrigeration, appliance, lighting, building efficiency, and landscaping. I encourage everyone to participate in these district benefits.
Investing in infrastructure District wide, has proven to be a community benefit. We have updated meters, in return, reducing staff time, updated the distribution systems of both water and electric, resulting in higher reliability and water savings and efficiency.
On the water side, the District has maintained sustainable groundwater sources with clean and clear water which the greater Truckee area is known for. The District has been a leader in water conservation efforts reducing water production 40% since 2008. The programs put in place with Board approval started these efforts way before the California drought mandate regulations were put in place.
During my time on the Board, the communities of Glenshire and Donner Lake faced failing water systems. The District welcomed those customers and employees, investing in infrastructure to ensure those customers were provided with the same standard of service as all our other constituents. This expertise will be vital assisting the community as we look into the future with SB88.
On the Board I have taken pride in being part of this great community and providing my expertise to the TDPUD, maintaining independent audit verifications of the District’s performance with budgets, setting goals for staff, increasing reserve balances, refinancing debt to save money, and reducing debt District wide.
On the community front, I have been very pleased to be a part of the District partnership with the Town of Truckee for installation of trails and other special District’s for community benefits.
I am committed to open and transparent communications continuing active membership in local, regional and statewide coordination of emergency response, mutual –aid, and emergency communications for the District.
The future of the TDPUD is an exciting time with a lot of challenges, I would be honored to serve you as a Board of Director and I ask for your vote.
Name: Bob Ellis
Full-time residence in the region: Prosser Lakeview Estates.
How long you have been a resident: 26 years
Current occupation: self-employed as a Realtor Associate at Dickson Realty.
Formal education: Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from San Jose State University and a Masters of Business Administration from Pepperdine University.
Current and previous political/governmental experience: Experience includes running for Director of the Truckee Donner PUD in 2012 and being elected for 4 years.
As a current Director of the Truckee Donner PUD, I pride myself on being prepared, understanding the issues, and contributing positively to the discussion in our meetings. Some of the issues are complex and controversial, and I believe we have performed very well in guiding the Truckee Donner PUD in the correct direction.
I have lived in Truckee for 26 years, and I enjoy being highly involved in this community. I enjoy the outdoors, skiing, ski racing, golf, and biking in this area, and I want to keep our environment clean and beautiful. Another area where I have volunteered for over 14 years is the Far West Ski Association as Vice President of Racing, and President of Far West Racing Association. These are volunteer positions and consume about 6 weekends a year for meetings and volunteer work. I am also a judge for the Athletic Scholarship Program for Far West, where we provide funds for junior racers in their quest to make the US Ski Team.
My education includes a Bachelors Degree from San Jose State Univ., and a MBA degree from Pepperdine Univ. while working full time at Peterbilt Motors. While there I learned to work with financial statements and performed financial planning on a daily basis.
In the 4 years I have been on the Board, we have made decisions that have saved money on our financing, equipment and projects with timely action. We have also reduced our debt obligations, while at the same time keeping our rates low and competitive. We have not had an electric rate increase since 2009.
Just like you, I want clean water and dependable electrical energy at the lowest possible cost while maintaining excellent customer service. This requires strategic planning and a careful balance of planning projects both now and in the future, so we can benefit in the future and now from these projects. We are replacing water pipes throughout our district that are presently leaking or obsolete. This benefits us in several ways. We are reducing water usage, electrical usage for pumping less water, and the new pipes should last 50 to 100 years. Since 2008, we have reduced our water usage by 40%.
We have worked diligently to reduce the number of power outages by continuing to trim trees near our power lines. We have reduced the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by increasing our use of wind power to 50% from our Horse Butte facility, and we have increased the amount of Cap-n-trade Revenue to $965,000.
My main goal is to make informed decisions on improving the quality of services, while being environmentally friendly and maintaining the lowest possible costs to the end user. I welcome your support and vote, and look forward to maintaining the course on the Truckee Donner PUD. Please re-elect Bob Ellis for Truckee Donner PUD on November 8!