Silverstein, Garlock and Whitfield retain OPALCO board seats

Submitted by Orcas Power and Light Cooperative

The results of Orcas Power and Light Cooperative’s board of director election were announced at the 82nd annual meeting on the interisland ferry on Saturday, April 13. In District 3 (Lopez et al.), Brian Silverstein led with 1,661 votes, landing a three-year term; and Peter Garlock was close with 1,264 votes to serve a two-year term. In District 4 (Shaw, Crane, et al.), Dr. Jerry Whitfield won the position with 1,328 votes and will serve a three-year term; challenger Peter Hawkes garnered 511 votes. A total of 1,948 ballots were cast, which equates to 17.2 percent of the membership. The majority of the membership voted online.

About 240 people boarded the interisland ferry to participate in the annual membership meeting. In celebration of National Lineworker Appreciation Month, all three of OPALCO’s new apprentice linemen — all hired locally — were in attendance, meeting members and handing out cupcakes made by Sugar Baby Eats of Orcas Island. OPALCO partners, were onboard with good info and great giveaways, including the San Juan Islands Conservation District, BPA’s Hydro Flows Here team, Rock Island Communications and T-Mobile.

In their state of the co-op addresses, board president Vince Dauciunas and general manager Foster Hildreth acknowledged the top-notch co-op team — staff and board members — who provide the “safety, reliability and local resilience for a good quality of life in San Juan County.” They recounted the major accomplishments of 2018 including the Decatur Community Solar project, a new path for power from the mainland to Orcas Island and Rock Island Communications’ milestone of providing internet services to more than 40 percent of the county.

Staff announced the launch of the Switch it Up! program with an original song written and recorded by Irthlingz: Orcas islanders Sharon Abreu and Mike Hurwicz. Switch it Up! provides on-bill financing for ductless heat pumps, heat pump water heaters and electric vehicle chargers. Members can cut their heating bills in half. Learn more at

Members participating in a Q&A session expressed gratitude for their internet service through Rock Island, the opportunity to participate in community solar and for OPALCO’s advocacy on behalf of housing, carbon legislation and support of local pharmacies. Questions spanned the topics of future solar and energy storage projects, how fiber is used for electric power distribution and plans for updating election processes.

Lunch was provided by caterers Market Chef, Lopez Village Market and Avenue Catering. Thanks to donations from OPALCO’s generous vendors and partners, close to 40 door prizes were given out to members attending the meeting including Yeti coolers, emergency prep kits, EV chargers and Ooma home security systems. Prizes were provided by Anixter; Brown & Kysar; Carlson Sales Metering Solutions; CoBank; CRC; Earthworks; Eaton; EES Consulting; General Pacific; Island Excavating; Jen-Jay Inc.; NRUCFC; NWPPA; Oldcastle; Orcas Construction Company; Proglass; PNGC; Rock Island Communications; and Trenchless Construction Services.

All members who attend the meeting will receive a $5 bill credit. The following co-op members will receive a $50 bill credit after their names were randomly drawn from all ballots received: Robert Boyce; Harley Scheffield; Janellee Teasdale; D.B. Moody; William Clapp; Kate Kimball; Larry Eppenbach; Stacy Romillah; Helen Cosgrove; and Alex Saunders.

OPALCO is required by the Rural Utilities Services to hold an annual meeting each year. Members who missed the meeting can read the 2018 annual report online at A limited supply of printed copies is available at your local OPALCO office, as long as supplies last.