021 Ray Beck, Chairman of JOLT: Joint Organizations Leading Transition

Fire2Fission Podcast
Fire2Fission Podcast
021 Ray Beck, Chairman of JOLT: Joint Organizations Leading Transition

Ray Beck chats with Mark Hinaman about his career as a lineman and a public servant in northwest Colorado, the Joint Organizations Leading Transition (JOLT) conference held on 6/2/2023, and the energy transition as coal plants close in Craig and Hayden Colorado.

Watch the full interview on Youtube. Follow along with the transcript on Descript.

[00:00:00] Ray Beck: But there’s other things that you can do for your community to leave a legacy. And I think this is exactly the same thing. You know, it’s gonna take someone, some organization, some industry to step up and say, this is what we’d like to do. Are you on board or not? The train’s leaving the station and you’re either on board or you’re not.

[00:00:16] Intro: Just because the facts are A, if the narrative is B and everyone believes the narrative, then B is what matters. But it’s our job in our industry to speak up proudly Soberly. And to engage people in this dialogue, those two and a half billion people that are on energy poverty, they need us. America cannot meet this threat alone.

If there is a single country, of course, the world cannot meet without America that is willing to, we’re the next generation. Finish the need scientists to design fuel, focus on net public benefits. We need engineers to invent new technologies over absurd levels of radiation entrepreneurs to sell those technologies.

Then we will march towards this. We need workers to operate a. Assembly lines that come with high tech. Zero carbon prosperity for need. Diplomats and businessmen and women and Peace Corps volunteers to help developing nations skip past the dirty phase of development and transition to sustainable sources of energy.

In other words, we need you.

[00:01:21] Mark Hinaman: All right. Welcome to another episode of the Fire2Fission podcast. My name’s Mark Hinaman, and I’m joined today by Ray Beck, the Chairman of the Joint Organization’s Leading Transition or JOLT in Colorado. How are you doing, Ray? 

[00:01:37] Ray Beck: I’m doing well. Thanks for having me today. Mark. 

[00:01:40] Mark Hinaman: Yeah. Excited to hear about JOLT and all the work that you, you’ve done and the, the conference that you guys hosted.

I’m sure we’ll dive into all of that, but before we get to it, let’s get a little background on you, Ray. Who are you? 

[00:01:54] Ray Beck: All right, well, my name is Ray Beck. I was born and raised in, in Route County, Steamboat Springs, graduated high school in 1968. I went to CNCC in Rangely on a wrestling scholarship.

Graduated there in 1970, got married, raised a family, and my wife and I Dixie, have lived in this home where we’re at, here at 5 95 Colorado for the last 45 years. We’re celebrating 30 years of, of marriage in August. So we’re, we’re excited about that. And is it 30? No. 40. 40 years of marriage. Wow. I better get that correct.

Yeah. And so, you forget

one down, huh? But anyways, so. After after I graduated from from college again, got married and raised our family and my wife worked for the city of Craig in the police department. She retired after 30 years. I went to work for by electric in 1972, January 3rd in 37 years and three months later in 2009, March 30th, 2009.

I retired after 37 years of service. And had all kinds of different ex experiences there. And then in between time 2007, I was elected to the Craig City Council. And prior to that I served on the planning zoning commission for three and a half years. Served two years on city council, one year as a mayor, and one year as a county commissioner for Moffat County.

And so here we are. 

[00:03:23] Mark Hinaman: Broad career. Right. Most of your career before you went into City council 2007? 

[00:03:29] Ray Beck: Yeah, so that was ya, valley Electric Association, which is a local co-op. Yep, yep. So I had different experiences there. 

[00:03:38] Mark Hinaman: What, what were some of your roles in that organization?

[00:03:41] Ray Beck: Well, I started out reading meters and get this mark, you know, back in the day you didn’t have to have a resume. You didn’t have to get an interview. It was basically who you knew. And so our families went to the same church and the Line Superintendent called me up just before Thanksgiving and told me who he was and he said, would you be interested in going to work for AMPA Electric as our meter reader?

And, and I’ve already, you know, was married and had a kid already, and I’m thinking, yeah, well what, what part of yes don’t you get? So he said, I said, what do I need to do? He said, well show up on January 3rd eight o’clock and don’t be late. That was it. And so 37 years, I mean, it was a great career pri provided for me and my family and, and provided opportunities throughout.

So, yeah. 

[00:04:22] Mark Hinaman: That’s great. Starting out as a meter reader, I mean, what, what else did you do when, when you, 

[00:04:27] Ray Beck: yeah, so then I, I went into, I was a truck driver, equipment operator, if you will, and then I took on apprenticeship. I was a journeyman lineman for about 17 years. And then after that, I stepped away from that and went into the metering department. So I was a meter technician, sub technician, and at the end of the day, I finished out as a meter technician after those 37 years of service. So had different experiences there, which was great. And what, yeah, my favorite part of, of being a journeyman lineman was obviously trans transformer connections and then and outages troubleshooting.

I cuz the, there’s no two outages that were ever the same. So keeping our, keeping the lights on was our mission. And that’s what we got paid to do. And do it in a safe, safe manner. 

[00:05:11] Mark Hinaman: And when you say outages, you mean like blackouts or there’s been a disconnect in the transmission or distribution system that Yeah.

Actually have to go out and physically repair, right? Yep. You got it. What was one of the most interesting repairs that you made? 

[00:05:26] Ray Beck: Well, I don’t know if it, if you can really say, there was an interesting, I always had great satisfaction. Trying to find what the problem was as soon as we could find it. And, you know, not, not delay the process, but oftentimes they were hard to find because Yampa Electric covered part of, I mean all of Bags in Upper Snake River, we covered clear down to the state bridge and clear down to the Utah border almost.

And so we had a big service area and, you know, winter storms happened and I always. Thought, you know, well, electricity is like the stock market, you just never know. But through fossil fuels we’ve been able to and coal keep the power on and it’s been affordable and reliable and redundant, if you will.

[00:06:14] Mark Hinaman: Yeah. Now we’re both from Northwest Colorado, right? I grew up in Rangely, but there’s not a lot of people there and I’m sure many of the people listening to this, this program are not in Colorado. Do you wanna give some context for kind of what the energy landscape looks like in northwest Colorado and what power generation is there now?

[00:06:33] Ray Beck: What, what kind of power generation is here now? Is that what you’re asking? Yeah. Well obviously we have a coal fire power plant, right? Tri-State, genera generation and transmission. And they’re our, our number one taxpayer. So I don’t know if you know this and if it’s in important, but we feel it is because we are going through an energy transition.

And, and so, Moffat County’s 10 top taxpayers equate to 60% of our assessed value, or 57% of the budget. And when you take away the two coal mines that we have and the power plant, that’s gonna be 47% of the budget. And I ask people really at the end of the day, could you live without 47 or 50% of your budget?

And the answer is probably no. You’d have to do something else along the, along the way or find a different job that was full-time. But yeah, that’s the kind of issues that we’re faced with. And at some point in time, we all know that fossil fuels are, are at least. We know that the governor and our state legislators and the federal government want fossil fuels to go away and they wanna keep it in the ground.

So, yeah, that leads to another discussion. 

[00:07:42] Mark Hinaman: Absolutely. So Ray, before we jump into JOLT why, why’d you get involved with politics? I mean, you, you went to city council and act as the mayor. Like I Thanks for your service. I’m sure you did a great job. What drove you to do that? 

[00:07:56] Ray Beck: That is a really good question. I scratched my head many times wondering, what in the heck are you doing, Ray? No. I’ll tell you what, how you all came out when I was on planning and zoning. Or before I got on the planning zoning, one of the current council members asked me if I’d be interested in doing that. He says, I think you should put your name in the hat.

So I did for three and a half years. Well then working for Yampa electric and my wife is at the police department when I get to work and first thing I do, you know, pour a cup of coffee and I start reading the paper before I start my day like most employees do. And there was an article in the, in the paper and ad, if you will, looking for council members.

So I looked at that for a minute and then I went and reached over to pick up the phone and I dialed the number and then I hung up. I was calling my wife and I thought, I don’t think I’ll talk to her on the phone about this. I’ll wait till I get home. Right? Well, 30 minutes, an hour later, I’m, you know, testing meters in, in my office there.

And she calls me and she said, did you read the paper today? And I says, well, yeah. I said, why? She said, well, they have a council slot open and I think you should apply. And I’m going, really? I said, how about this? How about we just have this discussion after work? And she said, okay, so we talked about it and you know, your support starts at home, mark.

I mean, it really does. Yeah. And had I not had her support, I probably wouldn’t have done that. So anyways one thing led to another. We put our name in, we, we campaigned and, and we got elected. So, and that was in 2007. Yeah. Yeah. And so here we are. So I served about 14 years in public service and 

[00:09:38] Mark Hinaman: I mean, tha thank you for your service.

So, re retired now though. 

[00:09:43] Ray Beck: Retired I guess I could call it semi-retired, but yes, I’m retired because I’m not getting a, a paycheck other than my retirement and social security. So, I do a lot of other things, but just don’t get paid for ’em. But that’s okay because. I tell people, you know, we still live here, we still pay taxes and we still care.

[00:10:01] Mark Hinaman: Absolutely. Okay, so what, what are you doing in your free time now? 

[00:10:05] Ray Beck: Well, I was waiting on you the other day. I was, you know, this just last week and this week I was pouring concrete and I kept waiting for you to show up, but you didn’t come, so I had to go ahead and do it myself. No. All kidding aside I’m, I’m, I’m a Club 20 member.

I sit on the executive board for Club 20, which is the voice of the Western Slope. They’ve been around since 1953. We’re celebrating 70 years in the service. And I also am the membership chair for Club 20 and the voting board member for Moffat County. So those things I still did along the way, and then I’m still doing them now, but then the JOLT thing came up and I can give you some background on that if you’d like.

Yeah, absolutely. So back in let’s see, this is 2023, so I think it was around into January 1st part of February, 2022. Rose Psi, who is a former Mesa County Commissioner and is currently representative for House District 14 over in the Colorado Springs area. Called me up and, and we’d worked together a little bit while we were commissioners.

And she’s was starting to write articles to the publication called Complete Colorado on coal Impacted Communities and why we weren’t getting the funding from the state legislator legislature in order to fund the office of just transition for coal impacted communities. So we started sharing notes and she took some of my notes and used them and along with hers, and we were having about a weekly conversation there for about a month.

And, you know, we. Started talking, well, maybe we ought to expand the group. And so she said, well, what about this person? What about that person? And I said, and what about this person? So we were able to pull together four or five people and, and Matt Schuler from the Jackson Star over in Walden was one of them.

We got Commissioner Wendell Kunz down in Delta, commissioner Sue Hanson from Montrose. And we got Dr. Lisa Jones from the CNCC college president. So there’s six of us that serve on this. On this committee and then throughout the year throughout the rest of that year, we started having zoom meetings and we’d call people in or invite people in to speak, including former senator Bob Rankin on his nuclear initiative.

We had people from Wyoming talking about other uses for coal, geothermal, and just a number of topics. Then along about end of August, somewhere, maybe end of September, the question came up well, What do we want to be when we grow up? Right? What, what kind of impact do we wanna leave and what’s our, our mission here?

So it came up that, yeah, we want to do a, an energy summit and okay, fine. Where do you want to have it? Well, we want to have it in Moffat County. It’s kind of a unique concept because here we are spread out throughout Colorado, but yet they all agreed that we should have it here because we’re gonna be one of the ones that are heavily impacted.

So about going just back and 

[00:12:59] Mark Hinaman: Ray real, real quick, why, why heavily impacted like these, there’s three generating facilities in Moffat County right now that are planned to close, right? 

[00:13:07] Ray Beck: Right. So you, so, Tri-State Generation transmission has three units, right? So the first one is scheduled to retire and December 31st, 2025.

And then we have one in 2028 and one in 2029. And so, With them being the number one taxpayer and the coal mines to follow that is gonna leave a huge hole in our revenue, especially for the county and all the other people has a domino effect. But I wanted to say that about half halfway through this ad hoc committee, we didn’t have a name, so we came up with the word JOLT and.

You think, well, that, you know, I even have to ask my own self my, the question of how, how did we ever arrive at that word JOLT, the acronym. And so when Tri-State announced in January of 2020 that they were gonna shut down the, the power plant, it was a JOLT to this community. I mean, you could have heard a pin drop on Highway 40 that goes through Craig, Colorado.

And so it kind of, Just mirrored together. And so our mission is basically very simple. Three words to advocate, communicate, and, and educate. Acronym ACE. And so, with that being said, we thought, okay, we’re gonna represent all the above sources of energy because we believe at the end of the day with the push to move everything towards electric, that it’s gonna take all those resources to meet our future energy demand.

And so that’s kind of what we are. We’re nonpartisan. We don’t wanna make it a political thing. We just wanna make it an education thing. And so, and that’s kind of where, where we were headed. It took us six months to organize this event and get the speakers to come in. And of course you have to have funding if you’re gonna have an event.

And we had a very good response to that. And we even had a great response with our speakers. We’d call ’em up and ask them, and. And we were very fortunate to get the people, the caliber of speakers that we got for this event. And, and you were there. You, you got to see firsthand some of the caliber of speakers that we had.

And I think everybody, we, we just had a lot of positive feedback from it. 

[00:15:18] Mark Hinaman: Yeah, to totally agree. I it, it was one of the best summits and energy events that I’ve been to. I mean, it was Pretty small appropriately, you know, in rural Colorado. But that was kind of by design, by for or by you guys, right?

[00:15:34] Ray Beck: Right. It wasn’t invite only and it wasn’t invite only. And, and it’s like I, I said at the meeting, and I’ve said it to others, you know, mark, it wasn’t about filling the, the room with bodies. It wasn’t about filling the room with people just so we could have a large event. It was really about filling the room with the right people.

And collectively when we came up with these names, At least on my list. You know, I wanted to make sure that we had community members, we, business members, industry members, and elected officials, both from the state and from the local level. And at the same time, I invited people from oed, from Department of Local Affairs, from Department of Labor from the office.

I just transitioned. And you saw Wade Buchanan there. He was rep, he was there representing his office and, and the, and the state as well. So, I think we had a really good mix of, of people. The, the one disappointment that I had was that the Craig Press never showed up our own local newspaper and And they were invited.

Yeah. Just like everybody, like the other media out outlets. And I even went down and personally invited them. And so I gotta tell you this little story Mark. When, when I was a county commissioner and Tri-State made that big announcement, We had individuals come to the commissioner meeting and they looked at us and they said, what are you gonna do about it?

Well, in my mind I’m thinking, well, what are you gonna do about it? You live here too, right? This is a joint effort. It is. This doesn’t fall on one entity or one person. This is gonna be a collective driven issue going forward, because if we don’t come up with some kind of, of replacement for the loss of fossil fuels Moffat County and other counties like us are gonna be in, in dire straits, if you will.

Yeah. So thus, so thus JOLT. 

[00:17:23] Mark Hinaman: Thus JOLT joint organizations leading transition. Correct. I, I love the name. I, again, I think it was a phenomenal conference. Why don’t you kind of walk through what some of the discussions were like who are some of the speakers? What, what kind of topics were discussed?

[00:17:38] Ray Beck: Well, you know, I should have got my agenda out for that because I can’t recall, I’m gonna remember all of them, but I, I think one of the, a couple highlights we had Christine King from GAIN, which is the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation. I think that was a hit. People wanna know more about nuclear and we can talk a little bit more about that.

We had Don Day, the meteorologist from Cheyenne, Wyoming. You hear him on the, on the radio daily given the weather reports and, and he was very knowledgeable. Our own Matt Schuler gave a, a really good speech that morning talking about where’s your energy come from? We had the Attorney General on there as well, gave a 10 minute opening remarks, which, and, and by the way, got support from the attorney General’s office.

We also had David Bernhardt, our former Secretary of Interior came all the way out from Arlington, Virginia. And he was our keynote speaker and I thought he had some very good, good things to say. And then all those speakers and, and those in between. And then of course we had the tour of the power plant.

We had a, a limit on that. 30 people. We had actually I think 30 or 32 that signed up. So that filled up pretty quickly and people that had never been around or inside a a power plant were impressed. We had a lot of feedback on that. Then we also had the on Saturday we had the energy cafe, which is basically a round table discussion with different entities talking about.

Different approaches to energy and different sources of energy, and it was just good table round table discussions where you could ask those candid questions and be honest about your feelings and, and what you think about energy and what that looks like for the future. And Matt Schuler, one of our club, one of our members, Actually he was the one that was leading that, and it turned out really well.

We actually had about 35, 30 to 35 people in that session, as well as 30 people that attended the tour. So it was pretty well balanced. And one of the things I noticed throughout the event, mark, and you might have noticed it too, I was really impressed with the level of engagement, not the engagement between the q and a and the, and the speaker so much, but the engagement that I saw in the room where people were just, In awe of, of the topics and the subjects and, and what, what came out of that whole event.

I mean, they were just kind of glued there because they wanted to learn more. And that really is the intent of, of the JOLT committee is to educate the community, have, have these types of discussions, have the right people in the room that will look at it and say, you know what? I think there’s a potential for this source of energy or that source of energy going forward.

And that’s, that’s all about having the right people in the room because it really, at the end of the day, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Yeah. 

[00:20:30] Mark Hinaman: I, I mean, I wanna call out some of the people and, and stories and I, I, I completely agree. When, when you say people were engaged in, in my mind they were.

Very, very invested. Cuz this is, this is a real process, right? I mean, the states decided that these coal plants are going to close. Yeah. So, and you had the plant managers from both of the, you know, the Hayden facility and the Craig facility. You had the president of the mine of Trapper mine at this meeting.

And they’re all worried about the jobs and just like you said, you talk about tax base, but they’re worried about the jobs and livelihood of all of the people that are working at those facilities. Right. What are they gonna do next? So, I mean, they, yeah, they were, they were definitely invested. Yeah.

So you talked about all of the above sources of energy and you mentioned nuclear, right? Christine King with the gateway for accelerating innovation in nuclear. What kind of progress are, are we seeing or do, do you hope to see come out of some of these discussions? 

[00:21:32] Ray Beck: Well, Kind of unbeknown to us when we organized this ad hoc committee and we used North Park Arts Council as our physical agent to handle the monies and the transactions and stuff.

Didn’t know at the time that house Bill 1247 was in the works which is a study bill and because of our Western Slope and, and the others we’re able to keep nuclear in the mix. They wanted to take it out. Some of ’em did, and I don’t, I would’ve imagined that was some of the, the Ds if you will.

But I gotta give credit to Senator Dylan Roberts and Representative Megan Lukins. As well as Perry Will Senator Perry Will they were all instrumental in say, you know, if we’re gonna have a study bill, let’s keep all the above in, in there. And nuclear needs to be part of that equation.

And so I think as a result of, of that like I said at the beginning, we didn’t know that that was coming along, but it did and it passed. And I actually was one of the ones that was asked to testify on that particular bill and support it. And so, Again, it’s a study bill, and I hope at the end of the day that our state legislature collectively and, and our governor will take a really hard look at that and see the value in in nuclear, our group, the, the JOLT committee, like I said, we’re not going to pick winners and losers.

We’re not gonna pick one over the other. Nuclear’s getting a lot of attention, but so is geothermal and hydrogen. And, and those are all part of the equation. And again, it’s gonna take all those resources in our mind to support our energy demand, our energy needs going forward. But I do think there is a lot of discussion going on right now around Reactors.

I mean, we know that there’s 92 reactors in United States, so there’s 52 nuclear power plants in 28 different states within the United States. And I also didn’t know, but I found out the other day that United States generates more nuclear power than any other country in, in the world.

I think that sends a pretty good message knowing that nuclear is safe, it’s reliable, it’s redundant, and it’s affordable, and we need to be having these type of discussions and, and partnering with people that can help move the needle. 

[00:23:45] Mark Hinaman: Yeah, absolutely. And we, we helped testify on that bill too. A bunch, bunch of folks in our group, and I mean, very exciting to see, see that it went through and passed. So, and then also fun to yeah, see Representative Lukins at the event and yeah, you know, get to thank them for really pushing it, pushing it forward.

I, I am a little concerned about the timeline. For Colorado, like these projects take a lot of time. And, and the, and the plants are closing, you know, like by 2029 they’ll, or end of 2030, they’ll all be closed, which means, you know, the tax base, the jobs, I mean, these people can’t just stick around and not get paid while we’re project planning, you know?

How have you thought about this problem and this kind of, I don’t know. In my mind, it’s like a mismatch and when we’re closing these plans versus when we might be ready to have something else, replace them.

[00:24:37] Ray Beck: Mm-hmm.

I think, I think that’s a very valuable. Question in, in regards to the time, timeline and timeframe because I think a lot of us are thinking along those same lines. And I think that’s another reason why this summit came off with such great impact is because we’re doing something. I found out through my retirement that you don’t have to have a title to get something done.

You can be just an average citizen taxpayer, but you still care. You still wanna move the needle going forward. And I think, you know, if we weren’t doing it, nobody else in the state of Colorado was doing it that I’m aware of. We have a lot of summits and a lot of conferences, but this is strictly focused on energy.

It’s about education and communication and advocating for those, all the above approach. Advocating for your community, advocating for colon impact communities. And, and again, it is gonna take a lot of time and, and I think one of the biggest hurdles that people are gonna have to overcome. In the event that there is and a replacement for the facility out at Tri-State.

And I’m not I spoke on behalf of Tri-State in, in any way, shape or form just to, to, to make, be clear about that. But my point being is, is if that happens, then we have the permitting process and, and that doesn’t happen overnight. And then we gotta go through the NEPA process and we gotta go do all that red tape that the federal government requires.

And, and it is, and we are running out time, we’re burning daylight, if you will. And so that is a huge question. I’m just hoping that our committee is just hoping that, uh, that as a result of this energy summit, that it, it’ll, uh, trigger a a response from someone and say, you know what? The government can’t do it all.

I mean, they’re, they, they’re part of the equation and part of part of helping us solve the problem. But it’s gonna take somebody with. Interest in doing it, it’s gonna take the industry themselves to make a decision in which way they want to go, at least in, in my mind. And so again, it’s gonna be all of us working together to, to get it accomplished because otherwise I, I don’t see that, that wind and, and solar is gonna cut it.

I think there’s a lot of things that don’t get out in the public about the cost of what it really is and what it’s going to be. And so I think that again, it’s gonna be a partnership.

[00:26:59] Mark Hinaman: Yeah, I, I do wanna tell this story because, and, and I wanna get your reaction to it or see if you remember it from the conference, but, Again, I don’t speak for Tri-State. You don’t speak for Tri-State, but they, tri, tri-State was one of the speakers at this event, and they were describing, you know, what their plan was going to be when they transitioned and what their targets are, you know, hitting 70, 80% renewables by 2030.

And an audience member asked during the q and a afterwards, you know, what, what are we gonna do when. Renewables aren’t on, right. These are intermittent, intermittent sources. And his response was, well, we’re going to import it from outta state import electricity from Wyoming or other states.

And people said, well, what happens when the sun’s not shining and the wind’s not blowing there? Like, what’s generating the power there? And his response was, well, coal, like, we’re gonna be burning coal in those states. The room went silent. I, I guess, do you remember that and what, what was your, if so, what was your response?

I mean, it was, it was kind of heart wrenching for me. Like it doesn’t feel like a just transition, I guess, is what I’m getting at. Right. We call this a just transition. It, it does not seem just.

[00:28:08] Ray Beck: Yeah, it was an un it’s really an unjust transition. I don’t know how that got named, but anyways I think he gave the right answer. I mean, I, I do feel like, you know, Cole isn’t out of the picture entirely, and I don’t know that it. Will be entirely either. But when, when people go to switch on, turn on their lights, and, and it doesn’t happen because of, of quote unquote renewables something’s gotta happen.

I mean, look what happened to China, right? They, they were farther ahead than we were, and they tried this and it didn’t work. And so now they’re building power plants left and right, coal-fired power plants left and right, right? And so maybe that’s why we see some of this. Unquote, climate change emissions coming because, you know, the, the wind blows that stuff over here, but yet we’re only at 13% of the, of the problem when it comes to that, that issue.

So now, you know, if the whole world was doing their part, then it might look differently and, and maybe we wouldn’t be facing so many rules and mandates coming from, from the government.

[00:29:07] Mark Hinaman: Yeah, it, it just seems hypocritical or extremely unfair and unjust to be shutting down industries and economies when literally across borders, you know, people are using the same technology, right? 

[00:29:23] Ray Beck: you, you know, mark, I’m, I’m a, I’m a son of a coal miner, you know, one of my jobs was when a young man, I was getting five, five gallon buckets full of stok or coal, so we could fill the stok matic to keep the house warm. And I can remember carrying those in and. And and my granddad worked on the Moffitt Tunnel lost his leg and in an explosion or, or a slide, a rock slide.

And of course, they didn’t have the technology back then to, to take care of him, so he had to have one of his legs amputated. And that was between 1921 and 1927 when they built that Moffitt tunnel. And, you know, they still use that tunnel today for various things. And, and I imagine even using it for coal.

Hauling coal back and forth. But anyways, that, that kind of got me sidetracked a little bit, but I, I think it’s important to, to say that you know, coal was, is here for a reason and there’s a lot of other things that cause emission. In fact, there’s probably not one source of energy over another that doesn’t Cause some kind of, of pollution or emissions.

I mean, they all have their, their own level. Some are just a little bit more than others. So, coal ultimately could still be part of the mix.

[00:30:34] Mark Hinaman: Yeah. So Ray, how did you guys decide who you wanted to invite to the event? 

[00:30:40] Ray Beck: Well, we, we would talk about it. I mean, as an example some of these folks that, that I suggested, like David Bernhardt and Melissa Simpson from Washington dc, Christine King, I’ve, I’ve met or or knew prior. I actually worked with David Bernhardt as a county commissioner, and, and I just thought, you know, guys, what do you think about this?

And so we would make these suggestions in a meeting and whoever made the suggestion, suggestion would reach out to those individuals. And I gotta tell you that the response was great. I guess maybe our timing was just right. Because we didn’t get any pushback. I mean, we got one cancellation at the end of the day because Melissa, her boss, had another job for her.

And she couldn’t be there, but she got the lawyer, the attorney outta Denver to, to replace her. And we just had a good response. And, and so when you reach out to these speakers and when you have six people in six different minds and building relationships throughout the years, Past and present, it makes a lot of difference.

And, and I always felt like, you know, as an elected official going to outside meetings and building those relationships made you a better elected official, representing your community. And, and so I, I, I mean, I, even today, you know, I can call people up and yeah, they remember who you are because you were there and make, trying to make a difference.

[00:32:01] Mark Hinaman: Absolutely. Will you guys host a similar conference next year?

[00:32:05] Ray Beck: You know, we had a meeting the Monday after the event while things were fresh in our mind. We went over the survey got a report on that and and we talked about having a meeting. And so, yes, we are, it’s gonna be scheduled for June 27th and 28th. 2024. It’ll be in Montrose. So we’re gonna move this thing around and then where it, it goes from there we’ll decide then.

But our next meeting, our next zoom meeting will be on the 31st of July. So if you know of anybody, mark, excuse me, if you know of anybody that is an expert in their field anything related to energy, please let me know. We’d be happy to reach out to them and, and see if we can get them to be a speaker.

And that’s kind of how this all works. So it’s, it’s like I say, it’s not so much what you know, it’s who you know and I know you.

[00:32:57] Mark Hinaman: If people wanted to be part of the discussion? Uh, how, how do they apply or if they wanted to attend next year?

[00:33:02] Ray Beck: Yeah. So obviously, you know, they can get ahold of myself or they can get ahold of any one of the, uh, jolt members and we’d be happy to, uh, Put ’em on the invite list. I mean, that happened a lot during the, the, so the course of, uh, us organizing this event. And, you know, I, I’m gonna maybe jump the gun here a little bit, but I think there’s an opportunity here for you to, first of all, see if you’d get ahold of Christine King and see if she’d be willing to do a podcast, which I’m pretty sure she would be.

[00:33:31] Mark Hinaman: She’s on the list.

[00:33:33] Ray Beck: I think we need to continue to have these discussions. And another one is Tiffany Dixon with Associated Governments at Northwest Colorado. Do you know Tiffany? She was there representing Ag and C and her? Yes. I think she would be a very good she represents Northwest Colorado Ag and C’S made up of, of governments, uh, councils and commissioners.

And I served as the chairman for that group while I was county commissioner for I think three years out of the four that I was there, and went to it even before I was a county commissioner. No, if you would like to, I mean, I actually talked to her just the other day about this and I told her I was gonna suggest her name and she said, that’d be great, Ray.

So I think she’d be, yeah, I think it’d be a good or great if you would give her that opportunity. I’m just kind of looking over my notes to see if there’s anything else that I missed.

[00:34:31] Mark Hinaman: Well, I’m, I am curious on this thought. You know, that it, it feels like we need community support for transition projects and I, I don’t think these communities want wind and solar projects. I could be wrong on that, but I think they want jobs that are, are good paying and they want economy to, to bolster their economy.

[00:34:56] Ray Beck: You, you know, mark, I. I’m not hearing a lot of pushback from, from Moffat County when it comes to nuclear wind might be a different thing. I don’t really think that Moffat County is even conducive to windmills just for the fact that it doesn’t blow here all the time. And, and obviously but we are getting a lot of support for, for the solar.

In fact. I was gonna, there’s an article here that was in, in the paper just not too long ago, and I don’t know if I can find it, but, I think it’s a four megawatt solar array that is being put in by in partnership with Yapa Valley Electric on some property just east of the office here in Craig.

And I had that somewhere, but I don’t remember what I did with it. So that should be up and running by, I don’t know. I’m gonna say by Thanksgiving. They’re currently working on as we speak. There’s another solar array going in south of Craig, 145 megawatt unit down by. And so I don’t hear a lot of of pushback, but we all understand that, you know, there’s more to these renewables than what meets the eye and what’s being told on the news and.

And all that stuff. And really at, at the end of the day, what’s gonna cost. I mean, I have no problems with that. I mean, if they want to do solar and they wanna do wind, that’s fine. I know there’s some, you know, they, and you can read it and look it up yourself. I mean, they, they kill birds and stuff like that.

They’re their high maintenance and, and their disposal process is gonna be very costly. If they can depo, dispose of it at all because of the materials that they’re made out of. But at end you know, if, if solar is there and wind is there as backups, you know, that’s fine. We’re not saying that we shouldn’t have them.

We just know that the, that there’s a reality to all this and there’s gonna be a cost to all of it. But at the same time, don’t pick winners and losers. Don’t tell us that we can’t have coal. Don’t tell us that we have nuclear. This, this whole. Just get in line and, and do this together. I mean, it’s a partnership and it’s gonna take all the above and, and they’re gonna find this out sooner or later.

That’s why we need to continue to have these discussions and try to change the narrative for the state of Colorado.

[00:37:13] Mark Hinaman: Okay, so, Hey everyone. A bit embarrassing, but unfortunately the last 10 minutes of my audio and video didn’t upload correctly and we lost that portion of the interview. Meaning just my audio and video track. Um, luckily we’ve still got Ray’s portion, so, uh, we’re able to give you the rest of that. So. 

It’s not going to be a little choppy. I’ve added in some questions that I’ve just recorded myself to hopefully help the conversation flow and get the rest of Ray’s content and the rest of the interview out. So if you’re watching online, then that’s explanation for probably the change in audio quality. And, you know, I switched shirts and hair got a little longer in between. So. 

Hope you guys enjoy the rest of the interview.

And I think that my question for Ray right here was, uh, will, the future of Western Colorado be nuclear energy, geothermal, continuing with coal? What’s the future of energy look like for Colorado. 

[00:38:10] Ray Beck: You know, I, I don’t know for sure what that would look like. And I guess if I, if I had my way of doing it, I think the only way to get people’s attention to, to convince ’em that. It’s gonna take all the above to do it is maybe turn off their lights first and then, you know, when they call and say, Hey, my lights are out.

When’s electricity gonna be back on? My answer would be, you know, probably not for another five days. You might want to check on those renewables and see how they’re working for you, you know? And, and I mean, seriously, at the end of the day, if, you know, people don’t really know how to React or respond to a situation unless they’ve actually been part of that or they’ve been affected themselves.

So at the end of the day, I mean, we can have these discussions and we can try to, to, to plea with them and, and. And bargain with them and convince them or try to convince them. But at the end of the day, if, if it was the state capitol or the, or the National Capitol, or where were the politicians that make the, the DEC decisions or the EPA a or the well earth guardians or whoever that is, you know, if, if they were the ones that were affected by the loss of power or had a blackout and it was for extended amount of time, they would realize that maybe this isn’t such a good idea.

[00:39:31] Mark Hinaman: So how can people help? 

[00:39:32] Ray Beck: Well, that’s a good question. And I think, again, it comes through partnerships and, and that was gonna be part of my, my answer to your, to your question in terms of, we gotta have those partnerships with our, our legislators, our representatives at the state level, at the federal level, and, and I’ll the governor, if you will, and, and industry, I mean, you know, we, we can’t make that decision for them.

We can be supportive of a decision once it comes out or not. We can ask those tough questions, but at the end of the day, it’s, it’s going to, to take the, the partnership. It’s about relationships. It’s about trying to do the right thing for your, your community, for your state going forward. And it just, it, it’s a lot of common sense stuff here.

You know, it’s not rocket science. I think we can figure this out, but we have to get on the same page.

[00:40:21] Mark Hinaman: Okay. So what’s the most impactful step we can take to building more nuclear as fast as possible? 

[00:40:29] Ray Beck: How are we, how are we gonna do that and build it faster? Well, that, you know, that’s a good question and I don’t know, I don’t know what the answer to it. I mean, give it some thought, think about it. But again, it’s just gonna be people coming together and, and they gotta believe in it enough to, to push it forward.

I mean, I helped organize a lot of events while I was elected official. As an example, the balloon festival, we didn’t have a balloon festival here. Route County had a balloon festival. We didn’t. I told my wife, if they can do it, why can’t we do it? It’s gonna take that attitude to do that, that type of stuff.

Never had a one. Accomplishments as a, as a city council member was getting the new terminal for our Craig Moffat County airport. You know, again, it takes somebody to move the ball. I mean, you can’t do things on your own, but you’ve got to start the conversation. You’ve got to be able to plant those seeds of opportunity and get other people on board to believe that your mission’s worthwhile and it’s worth funding and it’s worth moving forward.

And, and that’s how these things happen. I can give you a list of some of the things I accomplished. Over the last 14 years. It wasn’t just going to make, going to meetings and making decisions and adopting a budget. That’s a big part of it. But there’s other things that you can do for your community to leave a legacy.

And I think this is exactly the same thing. You know, it’s gonna take someone, some organization, some industry to step up and say, this is what we’d like to do. Are you on board or not? The train’s leaving the station and you’re either on board or you’re not. So you know that that’s just my, from my past experience.

[00:42:01] Mark Hinaman: I like that Ray. I can tell where the same. We both like to get stuff done!

[00:42:07] Ray Beck: There you go. Yeah, I mean, when I worked with, with, when I was the, the liaison to the Craig Moffat County Airport and, and I went to Washington DC and heard what was going on out there through Club 20. Knowing that I came back and I read the master plan and there’s nothing in the master plan that says we have to do this first or this second, or whatever.

It wasn’t lined out that way. It just says, these are some of the needs. And building a new terminal was one of them. And I thought this is something that the city and the county can do collectively working together, because that’s what the, the people that put us in office like to see, they’d like to see us working together, not fighting over the, over the same pot of money, if you will.

And that’s usually what it comes down to. The arguments is usually about money. But anyway, we came together because we funded collectively, and I had to work with seven different organizations to help get that done, including my own city council and the city manager, cdot the contractor. And the list goes on and on.

So, again, whatever it takes for us to do this, it’s got to be done with somebody taking the lead. Somebody’s gotta take the lead. Somebody’s gotta plant the seed of opportunity and the idea and then bring people in. And why is this a good idea?

[00:43:16] Mark Hinaman: Now you’ve mentioned club 20 a couple of times already. What is it? Why don’t you go ahead and give us some background on it.

[00:43:23] Ray Beck: Club 20 is the voice of the Western slope has been since 1953. And collectively, that all started because of transportation. And so this, this really is a good segue to the conversation we’re just having about somebody taking the lead because of the lack of funding for transportation and Western Colorado and every county fighting for the same pot of money.

A bunch of businessmen got together and decided, you know, let’s do this together. This, this all fight for the same results. And so they did. Well, we were only getting. 17% of the the money going to the Western slope. As a result of that, we wound up getting 37% of the money to help fund our highways. We were fighting for money then.

We’re still fighting for money yet today, but we’ve seen more done over the years as a result of Club 20, and then as a result of that, We don’t, not, not only have a transportation policy committee, and I’m the co-chair of that, by the way. My, my co-chair is down in Mike McVey is down in Durango, and we co-chair that policy committee together.

We’re having policy meetings actually as we speak in ju in July we’ll have a set of policy meetings. We got 10 of them now. We’ll have some of ’em down in, in Posa Springs and the other ones are gonna be over in Walden, Colorado. So we got public lands, natural resources, water education, healthcare we got tourism and of course transportation.

So, you know, it’s all those things that we care about and, and all those things that are important to our economy. So that’s kind of Club 20 in, in a nutshell. We have two annual meetings a year one in the spring, one in the fall. And then when the policy committees are kind of where the rubber meets the road, people come to the policy committees, they come up with a resolution.

They all agree that this is the right thing to do, so they move it forward to the board of directors. And that’s representing the, let’s see what we got at 20 counties. So, That’s three representatives that you have from each county. You got one vote, you got one vote. So I’m the voting member. I got two others that serve as alternates that go along with me sometimes and sometimes they’re not.

But at the end of the day, you got the board of directors, which is collectively representing those 20 counties. Those resolutions are brought to us, and then we either adopt them, amend them, or send ’em back to committee for review. And so that’s how that works. That gives our director and members the ability to speak on behalf of a particular topic, whether it be education or water or transportation, public lands, whatever that looks like.

And so that, that’s what we do. And we also visit our state legislature every year in, in January, February, we go out there and collectively partnered with Action 22 in Progressive, 15, two other conservative groups. And then up until this last year, because of Covid, we’ve been going to Washington, DC every odd year to visit with our.

Our our delegates out there and, and heads of agencies, if you will. And so yeah, we’ve been around a while. We’re still trying to, to be that voice of the Western Slope. We just hired a new director in Brittany Dixon. And she was a current employee. And so she’s now the leader of, of the organization doing a great job.

And so I think again, we’re just trying to, to continue to be. We say we are enough being the voice of the Western nonpartisan.

[00:46:39] Mark Hinaman: Okay, Ray. So leave us with your most positive vision of the future. What’s the world going to look like in 10 to 20 years and how are we going to help get it there? 

[00:46:50] Ray Beck: I don’t think we’re in a position to be picking winners and losers, let’s put it that way. I think we’re now at, at a tipping point here in the United States and the state of Colorado in our communities where we need to step up and, and take action. You know, there’s two types of people in this world, Mark.

And we can have this discussion around a lot of different ideas, but there’s two types of people, those that talk about it and those that get it done. You know, I’m, I’m tired of talking about it. Let’s, let’s get something done. You know, that’s one of the reasons why we got the people on the JOLT committee that we have, is because they wanted to get something done.

They wanted to see something happen. You know, it’s, it’s great to have a speaker come in and be part of our Zoom discussion, but then who knows about it? Us? That’s all in ones that know about it. But now we were able to expand that to 130 other people that registered for that event. All decide that, you know, we gotta move in one direction.

The world’s gonna look a little different in 10 to 20 years. And I may not be here, but you might. 

[00:47:46] Mark Hinaman: I sure hope I’m here in 10 to 20 years. I’ve got a lot of life ahead of me. 

[00:47:51] Ray Beck: And so, you know, we, we’ve gotta leave, we gotta leave this younger generation with, with some hope and, and know that, you know, as an example, when, when you turn on the light switch on the wall, that your le your lights are gonna come on because our opportunities for electronics and anything electric is not gonna get less. It’s gonna get more. 

Technology’s gonna continue to move forward. It, it doesn’t have a stopping place, it’s gonna continue to move. So we, hopefully we can be prepared for that and, and hopefully that future will look a little different, but we gotta get everybody on the same page and, and that means from the top down.

[00:48:27] Mark Hinaman: Okay, well, Ray Beck, thanks so much. It has been wonderful. I think that’s perfect spot to leave it. So, Ray Beck, Chairman of the Joint Organizations Leading Transition it’s been great to have you on.

[00:48:40] Ray Beck: You betcha. And, and one other person I, I need you to, to take a look at and, and interview is Will Toor, Department of Energy for Colorado. 

[00:48:48] Mark Hinaman: Oh man. We’d love to interview Director Toor. 

[00:48:51] Ray Beck: Well, I’d good resource for you and, and if you need help setting that up, you let me know.

[00:48:56] Mark Hinaman: Hey, we’ll hold you to that, Ray. Thanks again!

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