This month, San Miguel Power Association has joined the Norwood Chamber of Commerce. Already, the electric cooperative provides service to the town. Now SMPA is on board as a chamber member to support Norwood’s economic growth and local businesses.
SMPA has long worked to be present for its service members. Coffee events, or the recently established “Power Hour” (the last was held at Maggie’s Pizza), are sometimes held for no other reason than to give members a chance to ask questions or give feedback — and to meet with people like board member Dave Alexander or CEO Brad Zaporski.
Spokesperson Alex Shelley said SMPA considers it important to be present in local communities and to give back.
Education efforts frequently happen in regional school districts, through which SMPA officials share “The Story Behind the Switch.” They work to teach kids about the generation of power and the transmission of electricity. They also couple that with a demonstration of a hot powerline in order to teach kids the danger of fallen powerlines.
Shelley said SMPA has not had that assembly in Norwood in several years, and the company would like to work on making that happen again.
Last year, Jesseca Padgett participated in the Rural Electric Youth tour, earning an all-expense paid trip to Washington DC. Shelley said SMPA officials were very proud to send the Norwood student on the learning experience.
Scholarships are also a big way the cooperative gives back. Currently, students are submitting applications and getting in their letters of recommendation to help get their college paid for. Shelley said graduating seniors from Norwood can and should apply for scholarships for college and vo-tech training.
He said there are other ways SMPA works to support Norwood. Recently, the Norwood Fire Station received an update to its lighting system. The cooperative gave rebate money to help pay for new LED lights that will save the station money on its monthly bills.
“The lighting was old and expensive — now the whole fire station has been redone with LED lights,” he said.
Even better, a volunteer from SMPA helped provide the “sweat equity” needed to help install the new lights.
Additionally, Shelley said officials are also quite proud of the IQ Solar Array project that is located in Norwood, next to the transfer station. There, the solar project sits on a section of the dump and helps to provide energy, but also bill credits for members who may qualify.
For fun, this year, SMPA — similar to previous years — entered the Parade of Lights for Norwood’s Noel Night celebration, an event that supports local businesses in town. SMPA’s float won the parade contest. Shelley said the company enjoys participating in Norwood’s community.
It’s also true that many SMPA employees live in Norwood or the West End.
This weekend, Shelley said that he hopes Norwood families will come to Ouray for the skijoring competition. SMPA did give grant money to the San Juan Skijoring organization to help produce the event. He hopes people will come out to see those brave enough to ski behind someone riding a horse at a full gallop.