United Power works around the clock year after year to ensure its members continue to receive the safe and reliable power they’ve come to expect from the cooperative. There have been some big changes over the past year. Some of these exciting changes have helped the cooperative better serve members living in different parts of the service territory and many have been for member use and convenience. This past year was a banner one for the co-op, which also celebrated its 80th anniversary at the annual meeting this past April.
A Cooperative Milestone
Celebrating 80 years was a special cooperative milestone for United Power. Not only was the cooperative one of the earliest co-ops formed, but it also took overcoming tremendous odds to achieve the milestone. Originally established by a group of rural farmers in 1938, United Power, formerly Union REA, overcame an aggressive takeover attempt from Public Service Company of Colorado (now Xcel Energy) with the help of its members and has become one of the most progressive cooperatives across the country. Today, United Power proudly serves more than 93,000 members.
Officially Welcomed Frederick
This past January, United Power officially acquired Frederick Power & Light and became the sole power provider to the Town of Frederick. Along with the addition, the cooperative also welcomed approximately 2,400 new members, which pushed its total services above 90,000 meters. The acquisition closed a crucial hole in the middle of the service territory, helping United Power better integrate its electric delivery system and reduce operations costs for all.
Carbon Valley Office Staffed
United Power purchased a large facility near Carbon Valley in 2017 to operate as a base of services in the western part of its service territory. After significant renovations and remodeling, crews began operating out of the facility toward the end of 2018. The western office quickly began providing value for members in the area. Crews stationed in Carbon Valley have quicker and more convenient access to the highways and communities in United Power’s western service territory, eliminating a 45-minute commute from the cooperative’s Brighton-based facility. The shorter commute allows crews to respond more rapidly in the event of an outage and restore power more quickly. Although some operations staff were already stationed at the Carbon Valley Service Center, the facility wasn’t officially staffed until 2019. As the cooperative continues to grow, more departments will be staffed within the new office. The office, located along East I-25 Frontage Road just south of Highway 119, offers construction services and, as of December, a payment kiosk in the office lobby. A community room is also available for local community groups to use free of charge.
New Website Launched
United Power overhauled its website in 2019, launching the new version toward the end of June. The new site was designed with a more member-focused approach. Not only was the new site designed with more user-friendly navigation, it was also tailored to be responsive on mobile devices, making it more intuitive for member use. In addition, the visually focused layout was intended to make the site more engaging while providing assurance members can find the appropriate content to meet their needs more quickly. United Power continues to update the site with the latest cooperative news and information, so it’s important to check back regularly.
From energizing the first community solar farm and becoming one of the first utilities in the country to utilize a single-axis tracking system on its large-scale solar farms, United Power has become synonymous with innovation over the past 10 years. The cooperative celebrated achievements for two innovative projects in 2019. In May, the Sol Partners Community Solar Farm turned 10. An immediate hit at inception, the solar farm sold out quickly and has been adopted by cooperatives across the country. In the fall, United Power’s battery storage project was ranked in the top 10 for interconnected storage capacity by the Smart Electric Power Alliance. The cooperative was the only Colorado utility to appear on the list.
Payment Options that Work for Members
To round out a busy and successful year, United Power also adopted two new payment methods for members. Pay Now allows members to make quick, one-time payments online via check or credit card with just an account number or invoice number, a quick way to pay when you don’t have your password on hand. The cooperative also placed two payment kiosks at office locations in Coal Creek Canyon and Carbon Valley. Like the Pay Now feature, members can make payments using the kiosk with just an account number and form of payment. Payments made by cash or credit are applied immediately and restores accounts subject to disconnection immediately upon payment.
Throughout 2019, United Power had many opportunities to celebrate continual growth and innovation with members and leaders in the communities we serve. As we look to the future, we’ll continue to set the bar for others to follow. We look forward to all 2020 has to offer, and continuing to provide our members safe and reliable energy.