TELLURIDE – Longtime Telluride resident James “Wes” Perrin died Wednesday, March 20, at the Veterans Administration Medical Center, in Denver.
Perrin, a lifelong Democrat, had battled throat cancer since 2010; he was first diagnosed in the midst of his campaign for the District 58 seat in the Colorado State Legislature.
A longtime alternative energy advocate, Perrin represented the Telluride region on the San Miguel Power Assn. board from 1998-2012, and served as board president from 2008 until 2012.
Perrin played a key role in getting the towns of Telluride and Mountain Village to document and reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. He was instrumental in developing the 1-megawatt solar farm in the Paradox Valley, co-owned by SMPA, that came online late last year. In late February, the towns of Telluride and Mountain Village named Telluride’s first large-scale renewable energy project – the solar array on top of the Lawson Hill wastewater treatment plant that has produced more than 369 megawatt hours of clean electricity since its 2011 installation – after Perrin.
“It was real nice to be able to do that before he passed away,” said Telluride Town Councilor Glider Bob Saunders, of the naming of the solar array.
“He was a passionate citizen who cared deeply about the environment,” Telluride Town Councilor Chris Myers said of Perrin. “He was a catalyst for change.”
Perrin’s relative pragmatism in a community of “staunch environmentalists” was sometimes “controversial,” Myers said, going on to praise Perrin for sticking to his guns in favor of “creating long-term change, that would last, over short-term change, that could be revoked.”
Perrin, 63, moved to Telluride as a single parent in 1973 with his young children from his native Michigan. A Vietnam veteran, he worked various jobs over the years, from town marshal to legal process server to renewable energy consultant.
He is survived by his son, Josh, and his daughter, Nicole, and by his sister.