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.
November 1947 – 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.
1963 – 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.
1979 – 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 2003 – 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 2006 – 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 co-op 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 2008 – Continental Divide failed to achieve an annual meeting quorum for the second straight year. Only 462 co-op 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 co-op 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 used to equip two classrooms with a ceiling-mounted projector, a document camera and a laptop computer. The equipment installation completed 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.
February 2013 – The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) ordered Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association, CDEC's power provider, to publish notice of its October 2012 rate proposals – Advice Notice No. 15 – in the March 2013 enchantment magazine. The PRC also scheduled a public hearing to begin October 22, 2013, on Tri-State's proposed wholesale rate increase and rate redesign, following protests by CDEC, Springer Electric Cooperative and Kit Carson Electric Cooperative in 2012, which resulted in suspension of Tri-State's rate proposals by the PRC.
March 2013 – PRC approves CDEC's Rate No. 27 filing, allowing the co-op recover access costs imposed on CDEC – including rights-of-way and easement access – by local goverments whose residents directly benefit from the expenses.
April 2013 – Continental Divide Electric Co-op achieved the quorum necessary to conduct an official business meeting, registering 645 co-op members. Arsenio Salazar, of San Mateo, was re-elected to represent District 4.
June 2013 – Nicholas Kemp, a Grants High School junior and CDEC Government-in-Action Youth Tour ambassador, is selected to represent New Mexico on the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association's Youth Leadership Council.
September 2013 – CDEC members generously donated nearly $1,700 to enable CDEC to provide back-to-school supplies to about 50 students and several schools throughout the co-op's service area.
Octember 2013 – Tri-State completes reconstruction of the Grants, N.M., substation. The improvement replaced a 1950s-era substation and provided improved reliability and additional capacity for future load growth in Grants, San Rafael and parts of Milan.
January 2014 – Continental Divide Electric Co-op awarded St. Teresa of Avila School in Grants, N.M., $5,000 as the recipient of the 2013 CDEC/CoBank "Sharing Success" grant. The money was to be used to implement the "Little Green Thumbs" project – purchasing a sustainable greenhouse and garden supplies for the students at St. Teresa.
March 2014 – CDEC and Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association complete work on a new substation in Laguna to replace an older one in nearby Paguate, N.M. The improvement improved reliability to the Pueblo of Laguna and to surrounding communities as far east as Tohajiilee and Highland Meadows to the southeast. The sub also allowed the co-op to begin test new communication technology and equipment to enable crews to respond quicker and reduce outage time. CDEC's goal is to incorporate the same level of technology into existing and future substations on its system.
March 2014 – CDEC Board Member Grant Clawson (District 6) is elected to serve as secretary-treasurer on the board of directors for the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corp. (CFC).
March 2014 – Continental Divide Electric Co-op's bid to to provide wholesale power to the City of Gallup is accepted and unanimously approved by the Gallup City Council. CDEC's power contract with Gallup begins June 30, 2014. The City of Gallup will continue to serve Galup residents, maintain its distribution facilities, set retail rates and bill its customers. Gallup's utility system serves about 10,500 customers. The contract increases CDEC's load by 43 megawatts (at peak). Power supplied will come from several plants in the region, including Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association's Escalante Generating Station in Prewitt, N.M.
March 2014 – More than 2,400 CDEC members voice their opposition to a policy proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that would set stringent limits on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from future coal-based generation plants.
April 2014 – Continental Divide Electric Co-op achieved the quorum necessary to conduct an official business meeting, registering 551 co-op members. Incumbent trustees Lynn Head (District 2), Joe Hoskins (District 7) and Keith Gottlieb (At-large) ran unopposed and retained their seats. No by-law changes were proposed to CDEC's membership.
June 2014 – CDEC's power contract with the City of Gallup begins June 30.
September 2014 – Continental Divide Electric Co-op begins significant electrical system upgrades in the Ramah-Zuni area. Included in the nearly $2 million scope of work are new utility poles, higher-capacity lines and new metering, making the upgrades the largest improvements in that part of the co-op's service territory since the late 2000s when CDEC built a new substation in Ramah and upgraded the existing Zuni substation.
October 2014 – New Mexico's 12 electric co-ops that receive power from Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association – including CDEC – agree to a interim, supplemental rate rider of $0.00226, per kilowatt hour. Tri-State and co-ops continue to explore and negotiate a rate to go into effect by January 1, 2016.
November 2014 – Continental Divide Electric Co-op awarded Future Foundations Family Center in Grants, N.M., $5000 as the recipient of the 2014 CDEC/CoBank "Sharing Success" grant. The money will be used to replace seven computers in the Center's community computer lab.
November 2014 – Continental Divide Electric Co-op applies for $34.9 million in Federal Communications Commission (FCC) grant money to build a $77.4 million Fiber-To-the-Home (FTTH) network, capable of providing voice, television and broadband services throughout CDEC's service territory. A mid-2014, mail-in survey of CDEC membership determined that 82 percent of the 1,644 members who responded expressed some level of interest in receiving a new Internet service that provided reliability and exceptionally fast speed.
December 2014 – CDEC is not among the provisionally selected bidders for $100 million in FCC grant money to build a proposed FTTH network throughout the co-op's service area.
December 2014 – Nearly 5,000 CDEC members voice their opposition to policies proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that would set stringent limits on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new, modified and existing coal-based generation plants. Continental Divide Electric's grassroots campaign was the 26th most successful among electric cooperatives across the nation.
December 2014 – Continental Divide Electric Co-op and the Pueblo of Acoma amicably settled a long-standing dispute concerning the co-op's legal right of access to the Pueblo's lands, allowing CDEC to resume new service connections to CDEC members on Pueblo lands.
February 2015 – CDEC Board Member Grant Clawson (District 6), of Ramah, is elected vice president of the board of directors of the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC). Clawson was first seated on the CFC board in 2011. He represents District 10 on the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association's Resolutions Committee. CFC is governed by a 23-member board, representing 11 districts, with one at-large position. The CFC is a nonprofit finance cooperative created and owned by America's electric cooperative network.
March 2015 – CDEC members donated about $650 to the Grants-Milan Rotary Club Bowl-a-thon fundraiser, which benefited a Grants Community Pantry program that provides weekend backpack meals for nearly 100 elementary students in the Grants-Cibola County Schools district. About $30,000 was raised for the program that culminated at Thunderbird Bowling Alley in Grants.
March 2015 – Continental Divide Electric Co-op received a score of 80 in the national American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) survey, conducted in the fourth quarter of 2014. The co-op's satisfaction and retention scores were higher than those in 2012 when CDEC first participated in the survey. In 2014, CDEC members rated Continental Divide Electric at or above the national benchmark when it comes to CDEC's efforts to improve the quality of life in the communities it serves; providing its members a good value for the cost; looking out for CDEC members' best interests; having a goal to provide electricity at the lowest possible cost; and, CDEC is doing more to control rising prices than other companies that provide services to the co-op's membership.
April 2015 – Continental Divide Electric Co-op did not conduct an official business meeting at the co-op’s annual meeting of its membership April 25 at Grants High School. The co-op only registered 440 members, or account holders. It needed 551.
August 2015 – Continental Divide Electric Co-op awarded Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary in Ramah, N.M., $5,000 as the recipient of the 2015 CDEC/CoBank "Sharing Success" grant. The money will provide field trips to the sanctuary, as well as education materials, for 800 K-12 students from eight schools in and around CDEC's service area.
September 2015 – CDEC members and co-op employees generously donated about $3,600 to enable CDEC to provide back-to-school supplies to more than 100 students and several schools throughout the co-op's service area.
December 2015 – CDEC members and co-op employees generously donated nearly $2,000 to enable CDEC to provide hot, holiday meals to about 50 families throughout the co-op's service area. In additional about 25 turkeys were donated to the Grants and Gallup community food pantries, as well as area senior centers and domestic violence shelters.
March 2016 – CDEC begins system-wide inventory of its installed poles, including attachments such as telephone and cable TV hardware. More than 62,000 poles throughout CDEC's service territory are included in the six-month project. The information will help CDEC accurately identify poles, locations and equipment in the event of outages and emergencies.
April 2016 – Continental Divide Electric Co-op achieved the quorum necessary to conduct an official business meeting, registering 592 co-op members. Incumbent trustees Alex Griego (District 1), Claudio Romero (District 3) and Arsenio Salazar (District 4) retained their seats. CDEC members also voted in favor of passing two bylaw changes. One amendment simply formalized the co-op's top management position as "Chief Executive Officer" and "General Manager." The original bylaw language generically referred to the position as "Manager." The second bylaw amendment passed by the registered membership allows CDEC to work in conjunction with other entities in developing high-speed, fiber-optic Internet throughout the co-op's service territory.
June 2016 – Alexis Venable, a Grants High School junior and CDEC Government-in-Action Youth Tour ambassador, is selected to represent New Mexico on the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association's Youth Leadership Council.
July 2016 – CDEC begins an upgrade to light-emitting diode (LED) street lamps and security lighting for residential and commercial use. CDEC's decision to phase out high-pressure sodium lighting will save membership money and eventually reduce the co-op's carbon footprint throughout its service territory.
October 2016 – Continental Divide Electric Co-op awarded Cibola General Hospital in Grants, N.M., $5,000 as the recipient of the 2016 CDEC/CoBank "Sharing Success" grant. The money will offset costs for energy-efficient LED security lighting installed in the parking lots and on the exterior of the hospital facility.
200 E. High St., P.O. Box 1087, Grants, NM 87020 • (505) 285-6656