Three CURE members—Brad Blue, Marsha Van Denburgh, and James Nelson—are poised to make history and advance clean energy and democracy in Minnesota by running to unseat the incumbents on the Connexus Energy board of directors.
Brad, Marsha, and James are running on a platform of cooperative democracy (democratic member control), clean energy and grid innovation, and good governance, transparency, and accountability. They are also supported by Connecting Us, an electric co-op member-owner advocacy a group that wants to increase total voter turnout and educate members about its slate candidates and the major co-op issues. CURE is a supporting partner of Connecting Us.
Connexus Energy is Minnesota’s largest electric cooperative and the second largest in the country. Connexus has 133,000 member-owners. It serves the north metro area and stretches from the Wisconsin border to St. Cloud. By design, It’s members own and democratically govern Connexus Energy. However, voter turnout in Connexus elections is shamefully low. Less than 7% of Connexus’ member-owners vote in co-op elections and the co-op has done little to educate members on how to get involved.
Minnesota’s electric sector is in flux, and the Connecting Us candidates know this is a major challenge, but also a major opportunity. They support Connexus’ investment in solar and storage. However, this innovation is just the start as the co-op continues to serve members with the safest, most affordable, and most reliable electric service. Brad Blue, a candidate for District 4, commented, “I am committed to a cleaner, healthier environment and finding ways to make access to renewable energy EASIER and CHEAPER for EVERY Minnesotan.”
With the right leadership in place, Connexus could set the example for all of the other 43 rural electric cooperatives in Minnesota to follow – leading on clean energy, innovation, and building a carbon-free Minnesota. The Connecting Us candidates are the progressive leadership Connexus needs. James Nelson, a candidate for District 2, feels that “As the largest co-op in Minnesota I want Connexus to be a leader that others can follow. We will be proactive in identifying and solving issues rather than reactive.” Marsha Van Denburgh, a candidate for District 3 shares that concern. She stated, “Energy needs are changing, and we must adapt or fall behind as member-owners. Renewable energy is not only a part of the future but an incredibly cost-effective one.”
Regularly talking with and listening to fellow co-op members is a big part of being a good board director. This is a bedrock principle of democratic member control, and the Connecting Us candidates know this well. “I pledge that I will have an open door for listening to our members’ ideas and concerns,” stated James. Brad continued, “I am committed to making information transparent and accessible so that member-owners can make important decisions about energy much more easily.” Marsha sees serving her fellow members as an honor. She commented, “I’m excited to serve all member-owners by listening to their concerns and presenting opportunities to move forward with renewable sources and a wide portfolio of energy options.” To show that they take their pledges seriously, the candidates have already made their email addresses public—none of the incumbent Connexus board of director members do this. The Connecting Us candidates have also hosted a “Meet the Candidates” event at Invictus Brewing and a Facebook live event on the Connecting Us page to talk with other co-op members.