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Keeping your lights on

If you live in Falcon, chances are that you are part owner of the company that supplies electricity to your home.Surprised? Many folks are. Mountain View Electric Association Inc. is a nonprofit electric cooperative that serves more than 35,000 members in eight counties on the eastern plains.MVEA’s mission is the same today as it was when it was founded 65 years ago – “to provide the best electrical service possible to its members at the lowest possible cost.”History:From the early to mid 1900s, America had basically two cultural classes: rural and urban. City dwellers had their lives changed forever when electricity was supplied to their domiciles. Country folks were told it was too expensive to run power to their properties and not in the best interest of their stockholders (think “Code of the West”).President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the lives of rural America forever with the “New Deal” by establishing the Rural Electrification Association in 1935 and enabling loans to be made for the purpose of providing electrical service to rural areas.On Dec. 6, 1940, about 150 people gathered at the Black Forest Community Center to discuss organizing a nonprofit rural electrical association to get electricity to their homes and ranches. Twelve directors were elected, and they set out to sign up members, prepare paperwork, hire contractors and employees and collect a $5 membership fee. Members donated their time, energy, materials and equipment to assist in the construction of electrical lines to their property.On Jan. 21, 1941, MVEA was officially incorporated as a nonprofit with 249 members. Commonwealth Utilities was purchased in November 1942, and put MVEA in business with 181 miles of line and 912 consumers. Limon was chosen as the headquarters and service was provided to Falcon, Simla, Calhan, Ramah, Matheson, Limon and Genoa. The World War II years, 1942 to 1945, saw slow growth because of the difficulty of getting materials needed to expand. After 1947, MVEA added 580 miles of lines, 549 new consumers and 1,896 meters in nine towns.Today, MVEA has expanded to 5,500 square miles of territory and 120 employees who work in either the Limon Headquarters or the Falcon Operations Center on Woodmen road. The rapid growth in Falcon has contributed to MVEA’s 6 percent annual growth for the last five years.”We work very hard to stay abreast of the latest technology” said Darryl Edwards, manager of member services.Where the power comes from:MVEA does not generate electricity. Instead, it purchases electricity from Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association Inc. Headquartered in Denver, Tri-State is a nonprofit wholesale power supply cooperative that provides electricity to 44 electrical co-ops serving parts of Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming. Tri-State’s board of directors is made up of 44 directors from each co-op and is owned by the co-operatives – residents who buy the electricity. Tri-State currently provides electricity for more than one million consumers in four states.Services provided by MVEA:MVEA offers many more services than just supplying electricity to your home. MVEA is also a registered licensed contractor, which allows them to meet many other customer needs.MVEA’s master electrician can perform all types of electrical services at competitive prices. MVEA can provide homes with whole-house surge protection, called “Energy Shield” and a never interrupted power supply for televisions, computers or stereos that can occasionally cause power spikes.The Power Partner Program allows MVEA to install a load controller on your electric water heater. The controller allows the cooperative to shut off hot water heaters for up to two hours during peak days, usually around three to four days a month.”Most water heaters will retain their temperatures for several hours so it shouldn’t have any effect on a family’s hot water availability,” Edwards said.Participants save $3 a month and help lessen the effects of higher rates during high-usage periods.Wind energy has become part of the electricity choices offered by MVEA. Called the “Green Power Program,” members can purchase wind energy in 100-kilowatt-hour blocks. Consumers choose how many blocks they wish to purchase, from one block to their entire electric bill. Members must sign a one-year contract, and each block adds $2.50 to your bill.Other services include safety demonstrations, school programs, emergency repairs, contractor referrals, product evaluation, design input, troubleshooting and small jobs and answering questions regarding installation and code requirements.Edwards also wants members to know about the “Energy Efficiency Credit Program.” MVEA supplies free water heaters to newly constructed homes and to homeowners who wish to convert from gas to electric hot water heaters.”There are several items that qualify for credits as well,” Edwards said. “Give us a call or visit our Web site for more information.”MVEA also is a major contributor of support to local communities. Deborah Skillicorn, member services specialist, said one of the cooperative principles is supporting the communities in which they serve.”MVEA does many things to support its communities,” Skillicorn said. “We sponsor scholarships every year, the cooperative Youth Leadership Camp, Washington DC Youth Tour, local 4-H’s and other organizations.”MVEA also sponsors the Mountain View Operation Round-up Fund, which is generated by and benefiting customers of MVEA. Individuals, organizations or charities may apply. Individuals must live in the MVEA service area and organizations or charities must provide services that are beneficial to the public. Award maximums are $2,500 for individuals and families and $5,000 annually for an organization or charity.MVEA encourages all members to vote for their directors and attend the annual meeting. Every member has a voice in MVEA and can exercise it by their vote.”We are always interested in hearing from the members at any time of the year,” Skillicorn said. “If you have questions or wish to voice a concern, please call or stop by the office. After all, you are the owner.”For more information on MVEA, visit their Web site: or visit the office on Woodmen road or their office in Limon.

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