In the years leading up to its 75th anniversary in 2013, United Power experienced unprecedented growth for an electric cooperative, more than doubling in size. The way the cooperative serves its members has changed with the development and advancement of technology available to both provide power for and communicate with its members. This is the final piece in a three part series chronicling the cooperative’s history leading up to its 80th Annual Meeting this April.
Following the addition of Brighton to the United Power family in 1993, the cooperative entered into a period of unprecedented growth. Since adding Brighton, United Power has grown more than five times in size, remaining one of the fastest growing cooperatives in the country over the past 25 years.
Much of United Power’s growth could be attributed to Denver’s continued northeast expansion. In the 1990s, construction on Denver International Airport was completed adjacent to the cooperative’s service territory and E-470 was extended into its southern quadrant. This provided greater access to the area, which offered affordable housing options and the opportunity to grow with the communities, mimicking the growth of Northglenn and Thornton years earlier.
Knowing it would serve new electrical loads from homes and businesses moving into the area, United Power pursued an active role with communities as they planned for future growth and planned infrastructure to support that growth.
As new residents flocked northeast to Brighton and its surrounding communities and north along the I-25 corridor, the cooperative outgrew the “typical” rural electric mold. The difference gave United Power new financial clout, allowing it to become the responsive utility the members and communities it served needed.
United Power constantly surveys technical innovations that can help better provide electric service that’s safe, reliable and cost-effective. The ongoing evolution of technology has created a cooperative that looks far different today than it did just a few years ago, and United Power has adopted a strategy placing it at the forefront of innovation among cooperatives across the country.
United Power has taken proactive steps to keep power flowing while providing members with the tools necessary to monitor and control their usage. Improvements to the cooperative’s infrastructure monitoring system, Supervisory Control and Data System (SCADA), provide more information related to outages and potential problems. The newly installed Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) allows members to view detailed information related to their usage trends and history through the Power Portal.
Over the past few years, United Power has also installed innovative renewable programs as the technology has become easier and cheaper to obtain and install. From powering the country’s first community solar field to the state’s largest battery storage facility, the promise of a more efficient and economical future sits on the back of the innovations in technology that have helped to move the cooperative forward.
Over the past 80 years, United Power has grown from a small rural electric cooperative serving just over 100 members to a progressive urban cooperative with more than 90,000 meters. It has overcome a competitive buyout bid from the state’s largest investor-owned electric utility, and set the bar for other cooperatives to follow as it adopts new and innovative technology. United Power is proud to celebrate 80 years of serving its members and providing safe and reliable power.