The History of Continental Divide Electric Cooperative
Continental Divide Electric Cooperative's roots can be traced back to Aug. 23, 1945 and a meeting held in the Grants High School gymnasium to organize a Rural Electric Association (REA) cooperative.
At this meeting, nine committee members were selected from various locations within the proposed REA project to organize and incorporate. The committee is considered the co-op's first board of trustees.
Committee members were Peter T. Mocho, Golden P. Roundey, Mrs. Tom Elkins, Barton Davis, Bernard Vanderwagen, Homer C. Jones, Dean Kirk, Eddie Freas and Don Smouse.
Below is a timeline of the co-op's early years following that meeting and the events since, which have helped shape Continental Divide Electric into the co-op it is today.
September 14, 1945 – Continental Divide Electric Cooperative, Inc. incorporated under the existing state and federal laws and issued a certificate of incorporation.
No vember 194 7 – The co-op's first office opened at 601 W. Coal Ave. in downtown Gallup.
1948 – Lon Adams hired as Continental Divide's first manager, and the co-op's received its first loan approval to construct electric facilities in the Ramah and Zuni areas.
1949 – CDEC purchased Inland Utilities in Grants (500 W. Santa Fe Ave.) with approximately 1,200 consumers and 290 miles of line. The co-op also obtained Inland's generation facilities and created its own power until September 1954 when the last generator was retired. A 115-kV transmission line from Plains Electric Generation Plant in Algodones was built and it began providing our power.
1958 – Lon Adams retired and Maurice D. Kaderli became manager. A new office building and yard also were completed at the co-op's present Grants, NM, location at 200 E. High St.
1959 – Continental Divide extended the 115-kV transmission line to Gallup, since the co-op had been buying power from the City of Gallup to serve its consumers to the west. At that time, Continental Divide owned about 125 miles of transmission lines and 1,500 miles of distribution lines.
196 3 – Continental Divide's service area stretched west to Canoncito, about 45 miles east of Grants and as far east as Navajo, Ariz. It spanned south to the Ramah-Zuni area and north to about 18 miles south of Shiprock.
1964 – Plains Electric Generation and Transmission Cooperative purchased the co-op's transmission facilities.
1975 – Fred A. Lackey replaced Maurice Kaderli as manager, following Kaderli's retirement.
197 9 – Continental Divide was name the fastest growing electric cooperative in the nation. That growth continued into the early 1980s in step with the uranium-mining boom.
2000 – Plains Electric, which consisted of Continental Divide and 11 other New Mexico co-ops, merged with Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, making Tri-State the owner and operator of the 250-megawatt Plains Escalante Generating Station in Prewitt.
2001 – Richard A. Shirley succeeded Fred A. Lackey as general manager.
2002 – Continental Divide divested itself of its Arizona service area and consumers to the Navajo Nation government and the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority.
December 200 3 – Continental Divide's 15-year franchise agreement with the City of Grants expired. Continental Divide continued to pay the 2-percent franchise fee stipulated in the agreement.
April 200 6 – Continental Divide achieved its first annual meeting quorum since 1995. By-laws required registration of 501 members – 862 showed up at Grants High School. Membership approved a by-law change to expand to newer accounts the co-op's distribution of capital credits.
December 2006 – Continental Divide and the City of Grants agreed to a new 15-year franchise agreement to provide electricity to residents within city limits. The agreement raised the City of Grants franchise fee to 3.5-percent and contains a clause requiring a year's notice by the city or co-op to end the contract.
April 2007 – CDEC failed to achieve a quorum of 506 members to hold its annual business meeting and elections in three districts. Only 480 members registered.
May 2007 – Continental Divide Electric Co-op's Education Foundation surpassed the $1 million mark in total scholarships awarded to service-area students pursuing higher education.
June 2007 – Nicole Vacit, a third-grader at Dowa Yalanne Elementary School in Zuni won the annual statewide safety-poster coloring contest. Vacit continues to be the co-op's first and only statewide winner. Her poster was selected from among 13 other second-, third- and fourth-grade winners representing co-ops throughout New Mexico. Vacit was awarded a trip to Washington, D.C., with her parents.
July 2007 – CDEC completed a $2.1 million system investment that included a new substation in the Ramah area and upgrades to the existing one in Zuni.
April 200 8 – Continental Divide failed to achieve an annual meeting quorum for the second straight year. Only 462 members registered; 506 were needed.
July 2008 – David Miller replaced longtime Gallup district manager John Baumgartner, who retired earlier in the year.
November 2008 – CDEC completed a $2.5 million system investment that included a new substation in the San Fidel area.
November 2008 – CDEC members and consumers sent more than 1,000 petitions, urging New Mexico congressional lawmakers to be mindful of cost, capacity and research when it comes to future energy policy.
December 2008 – CDEC participated in its first Holiday of Lights parade, decking the halls – rather the rails – of its bucket truck to haul Santa Claus to Fire & Ice Park in Grants.
April 2009 – Continental Divide Electric Co-op achieved its first annual meeting quorum in three years, registering the 503 members needed. CDEC directors up for re-election ran unopposed. Co-op membership voted in favor of a bylaw change to allow all active account holders membership. Previously, only those who had paid a $5 membership fee were eligible to receive benefits, including college scholarships, the ability to run for, or elect trustees to the co-op’s governing board and the ability to vote on bylaw changes.
July/August 2009 – CDEC hand-delivered 700 letters from its members to the Albuquerque offices of Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, urging them to keep impending national climate change legislation fair, affordable and achievable.
January 2010 – Joe Hoskins, of Thoreau, was appointed to serve out the remaining two years of governing board member Darrell Elkins (District 7), who resigned from CDEC's board in late 2009.
February 2010 – Continental Divide Electric released results of its first membership mail-in survey. Using a 10-point scale where 1 meant very dissatisfied and 10 meant very satisfied, scores averaged an "8." About 500 surveys were received, representing nearly 3 percent of the co-op's roughly 16,500 members.
March 2010 – Robert E. Castillo, P.E., succeeds Richard E. Shirley as general manager.
April 2010 – Continental Divide Electric Co-op achieved its annual meeting quorum, registering 723 members. Alex Griego, of Grants, was elected to represent District 1 (Grants city limits), replacing George Trujillo, who did not seek re-election. Membership also voted in favor of amending by-laws to allow for district elections, even "if the Annual Meeting (of all districts) has no quorum."
December 2010 – CDEC members generously donated more than $3,500 to benefit Grants and Gallup food pantries.
March 2011 – CDEC Board Member Grant Clawson (District 6), of Ramah, is seated to the board of directors of the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC).
April 2011 – Continental Divide Electric Co-op achieved its annual meeting quorum, registering 644 members. Incumbent trustees are re-elected. No bylaw changes were proposed to the membership.
November 2011 – Nearly 3,000 CDEC members signed petitions and letters, urging the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board to repeal 2010 rules passed that require reductions in greenhouse gas emissions at the expense of affordable electricity and job growth.
December 2011 – CDEC members generously donated enough money to buy winter coats for 93 students from 32 service-area elementary schools that participated in the co-op's second annual holiday fundraiser.
April 2012 – Continental Divide Electric Co-op failed to achieve a quorum of 543 registered members for its annual meeting. Incumbent trustees were uncontested and retained their district seats. No bylaw changes were proposed to the membership.
June 2012 – CDEC members donated more than 3,000 books during a monthlong book drive to benefit the New Mexico State Library rural bookmobile program. As a result, the State Library laid claim to about 1,000 of the books. The rest were donated to the Western New Mexico Correctional Facility and New Mexico Women's Correctional Facility.
November 2012 – Continental Divide Electric Co-op awarded Zuni Christian Mission School $4,510 as the recipient of the CDEC/CoBank "Sharing Success" grant. The money was to be used to equip two classrooms with a ceiling-mounted projector, a document camera and a laptop computer. The equipment installation would complete the technology infrastructure needed for Zuni Christian's new school. The grant opportunity was in celebration of 2012 as "International Year of Cooperatives."
December 2012 – CDEC members generously donated nearly $3,100 to enable CDEC to provide hot, holiday meals to more than 60 families in the Grants, Gallup and surrounding areas.