Empire Electric Association, Inc., was organized on November 15, 1939, in Dove Creek, Colorado, to serve the rural areas of Montezuma and Dolores counties in Colorado, and a small portion of San Juan County in Utah. At this time, the town areas of Cortez, Dolores, and Mancos, and nine farms near Mancos, were all served by Highland Utilities Company, an investor-owned utility.
Early Power Sources
Rural Electrification Administration (REA) financing was secured, and the first eighty-seven miles of line, serving 260 members, was energized on May 5, 1941. Power was supplied by a 50 kW generator located at Lewis, Colorado. On March 4, 1944, Empire Electric bought the Highland Utilities generating plant in an effort to provide economical electric service to the entire area. Wholesale power was also purchased from Western Colorado Power Company.
In July 1941, a meeting was held in Montrose, Colorado, to form a cooperative that eventually became Colorado Ute Electric Association, Inc. Dan Hunter was Empire’s representative to this meeting. Colorado Ute did not become active until after World War II when the four original member-cooperatives pursued its formation and began the construction of the original power generating plant near Nucla, Colorado, a 115 kV system that began service in November 1959.
Before the Nucla plant became operational, Empire Electric and the other member-cooperatives in Colorado Ute had to supplement the Western Colorado Power Company power supply with temporary diesel generation, interim purchases from Utah Power and Light Company, and any “make do” sources available.
Once a dependable wholesale power supply was available from the Nucla plant, Empire Electric’s service expanded rapidly, serving Montezuma, most of Dolores, and part of San Miguel counties in Colorado and a portion of San Juan County, Utah. The Monticello, Utah, municipal system was purchased in May 1980.
Commitment to Community
Empire Electric Association, Inc., was built by the community, for the community. Today we take pride in providing support to our local communities. By giving back, being active, and encouraging our employees to get involved, we work to improve the quality of life in our communities in many ways. Event sponsorships, scholarships and youth tours, and meeting space in the Calvin Denton Room are just some of the ways EEA supports the community.
The Annual Meeting is the time for all members to meet and take an active part in the business they are part owner of, and to have a voice in its operation. At the March 1, 1952, annual meeting, EEA adopted the Capital Credits Plan. Simply put, each consumer of EEA is a part owner of EEA, with the ownership percentage depending on the amount of revenue contributed every year through monthly energy consumption.
A picture is said to be worth a thousand words. The design for our logo was submitted by Roger Echols, a former employee of EEA, and was the result of a contest among EEA employees and directors. The Colorado flag in the upper right corner represents the area serviced in southwestern Colorado, and the beehive in the lower left corner is the symbol for Utah and represents the area served in southeastern Utah. The Native American designs represent the rich heritage so prevalent in EEA’s service area.