United Power Just the 31st Cooperative Nationally to Reach 100,000 Meters
United Power in June became one of just a handful of electric cooperatives nationwide to surpass 100,000 meters. The achievement highlights a period of sustained growth for the Brighton-based co-op that began in the early 2000s and continued even this past year despite a historic pandemic. United Power had anticipated reaching the meter mark in 2021 but did so much earlier than expected due to an increase in growth early this year.
By surpassing 100,000 meters, United Power becomes just the second Colorado electric cooperative to reach the mark, joining Intermountain Rural Electric Association, headquartered southwest of Denver in Sedalia.
“It is truly a historic accomplishment to reach this meter milestone,” said Mark A. Gabriel, United Power’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “United Power has long had a reputation for excellence among its cooperative peers, and it now joins a select few who serve more than 100,000 meters. Our size and reputation will amplify our voice in helping shape the future of the electric industry.”
Like all electric cooperatives, United Power was established to serve a largely rural population in an area that was considered too inconvenient or unprofitable for large electric utilities. Today, there are more than 800 electric cooperatives serving members throughout the country. Many have remained small because of the sparsely populated areas they are serving, but others, like United Power, have found themselves in rapidly growing areas close to large metropolitans.
Few cities are experiencing the growth surge that began in Denver several years ago. While much of the cooperative’s service territory is still rural, it now also serves some of the fastest growing communities in the country as more people are relocating to the Denver area. Maintaining control of the area has not always been easy. United Power had to survive an aggressive buyout attempt from the Public Service Company of Colorado — now Xcel Energy — which no longer saw the cooperative’s service territory as either unprofitable or inconvenient.
United Power was established by a group of farmers in and around Brighton in 1938 with only a couple hundred original members. It took the cooperative nearly 40 years to surpass 10,000 meters. When United Power reached an agreement with Public Service Company to forgo the buyout in the mid-1980s, growth had come to the area, but not like it would in the years to follow. By 2004, it had reached 50,000 meters, and a decade later in 2015 surpassed 75,000. During its largest growth year in 2004, the cooperative gained approximately 5,000 new meters, more than it gained during a twenty year stretch from 1950-1970 combined.
The cooperative has already experienced record growth again this year, and is on pace to add several thousand more meters to its system before the end of the year. The continued growth has United Power now setting its sights on the next meter mark.
“We are adding new meters at an unprecedented rate,” said Gabriel. “But more importantly, we are adding members. Each new meter represents a new family on our lines or a new business helping shape the economy of the communities we serve. Our members make us stronger, and they make our communities stronger. As your cooperative, it is our privilege to be able to serve each and every one of our members.”
United Power invites members to join in celebrating this meter milestone with the cooperative and with each other at our 100,000 Meter Open House celebration at the Carbon Valley Service Center on August 28. The events will provide members with an opportunity to learn more about the cooperative and see how its newest facility and office location are effectively serving members on the west side of the service territory.
United Power has partnered with the Carbon Valley Help Center and encourages event attendees to bring a canned food item or cash donations to assist the Help Center in meeting the needs of others in the area.
United Power 100,000 Meter Open House Celebration
Saturday, August 28