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Our History

The History of Continental Divide Electric Cooperative

 

Continental Divide Electric Cooperative's roots trace back to an August 1945 meeting 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 events that have helped shape Continental Divide Electric into the co-op it is today.

September 14, 1945 – Continental Divide Electric Cooperative, Inc. incorporated under existing state and federal laws and was 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. First loan approval received 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, N.M, was built and began providing CDEC power.

1958 – Maurice D. Kaderli succeeds Lon Adams as Continental Divide's manager. CDEC announces the construction of its new headquarters building at 200 E. High St., in Grants, N.M.

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 succeeds Maurice Kaderli as CDEC's manager.

1979 – Continental Divide named the fastest growing electric cooperative in the nation. That growth continued into the early 1980s, in step with the uranium-mining boom.

1989 – The Continental Divide Electric Foundation was established to assist CDEC members with scholarship money.

2000 – Plains Electric – consisting 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.

April 2006 – Continental Divide achieved its first annual meeting quorum since 1995. Bylaws required registration of 501 members – 862 showed up at Grants High School. Membership approved a bylaw change to expand to newer accounts the co-op's distribution of capital credits.

April 2007 – CDEC did not take any official actions at its annual meeting. CDEC needed 506 registered co-op members. Only 480 registered.

May 2007 – Continental Divide'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 – CDEC did not take any official actions at its annual meeting. CDEC needed 506 registered co-op members. Only 462 registered.

July 2008 – David Miller succeeds John Baumgartner as Gallup district office manager.

November 2008 – CDEC completed a $2.5 million system investment that included a new substation in the San Fidel area.

April 2009 – Continental Divide 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.

January 2010 – Joe Hoskins, of Thoreau, was appointed to serve the remaining two years of Darrell Elkins' term (District 7). Elkins resigned from CDEC's board in late 2009. 

February 2010 – Continental Divide released results of its first membership mail-in survey. Using a 10-point scale where 1 meant very dissatisfied, and 10 meant very satisfied, CDEC's scores averaged an 8. Surveys results represented nearly 3 percent of the co-op's roughly 16,500 members. 

March 2010 – Robert E. Castillo, P.E., succeeded Richard E. Shirley as general manager.

April 2010 – Continental Divide 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. The membership also voted to amend the bylaws to allow for district elections in the absence of a business meeting quorum at the annual meeting. Elections can now occur, so long as there is a quorum of members in districts with elections.

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, N.M., is seated to the board of directors of the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC).

April 2011 – Continental Divide achieved its annual meeting quorum, registering 644 members. Incumbent trustees were re-elected. No bylaw changes were proposed to the membership.

December 2011 – CDEC members donated 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 – CDEC did not take any official actions at its annual meeting. CDEC needed 543 registered co-op members. Only 512 registered. Incumbent trustees were uncontested. No bylaw changes were proposed.

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. CDEC donated the rest to the Western New Mexico Correctional Facility and New Mexico Women's Correctional Facility in Grants, N.M.

November 2012 – Zuni Christian Mission School received $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.

December 2012 – CDEC members donated nearly $3,100 to enable CDEC to provide hot, holiday meals to more than 60 families in Grants, Gallup and surrounding areas.

April 2013 – Continental Divide 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, was selected to represent New Mexico on the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association's Youth Leadership Council.

 

September 2013 – CDEC members 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.

 

October 2013 – Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association completed the reconstruction of the Grants 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 – St. Teresa of Avila School in Grants, N.M., received $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 St. Teresa students.

 

March 2014 – CDEC and Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association completed work on a new substation in Laguna, improving reliability to the Pueblo and surrounding communities, including Tohajiilee and Highland Meadows. The sub also allowed the co-op to begin testing new communication technology and equipment to enable crews to respond quicker and reduce outage time.

 

March 2014 – CDEC Board Member Grant Clawson (District 6) was elected to serve as secretary-treasurer on the board of directors for the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corp. (CFC).

 

March 2014 – Continental Divide's bid to provide wholesale power to the City of Gallup is accepted and unanimously approved by the Gallup City Council. The City of Gallup will continue to serve Gallup residents, maintain its distribution facilities, set retail rates and bill its customers. Gallup's utility system serves about 10,500 customers. The contract increased CDEC's load by 43 megawatts (at peak).

 

April 2014Continental Divide achieved a quorum to conduct business at its annual meeting, registering 551 co-op members. Incumbent trustees Lynn Head (District 2), Joe Hoskins (District 7) and Keith Gottlieb (At-large) ran unopposed. No bylaw changes were proposed.

 

September 2014 – Continental Divide began nearly $2 million in electrical system upgrades in the Ramah-Zuni area. Included were new utility poles, higher-capacity lines and new metering. The upgrades were the most significant 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.

 

November 2014 – Future Foundations Family Center in Grants, N.M., received $5,000 as the recipient of the 2014 CDEC/CoBank "Sharing Success" grant. The money replaced seven computers in the Center's community computer lab.

 

November 2014 – CDEC applied 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 2014 mail-in survey of CDEC's membership revealed that 82 percent of the 1,644 respondents expressed some level of interest in receiving reliable, high-speed internet service.

 

December 2014 – CDEC is not selected for FCC grant money to build the co-op's proposed FTTH network.

 

February 2015 – CDEC Board Member Grant Clawson (District 6), of Ramah, N.M., was 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. The CFC is a nonprofit finance cooperative created and owned by America's electric cooperative network. A 23-member board governs it.

 

March 2015 – CDEC members donated about $650 to the Grants-Milan Rotary Club Bowl-a-thon fundraiser. It benefited a Grants Community Pantry program that provides weekend backpack meals for nearly 100 elementary students in the Grants-Cibola County Schools district. The Bowl-a-thon raised about $30,000 for the program.

 

March 2015 – Continental Divide 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.

 

April 2015 – CDEC did not take any official actions at its annual business meeting. CDEC needed 551 registered co-op members. Only 440 registered.

 

August 2015 – Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary in Ramah, N.M., received $5,000 as the recipient of the 2015 CDEC/CoBank "Sharing Success" grant. The Sanctuary used the money to provide field trips and education materials to 800 K-12 students from eight schools in and around CDEC's service area. 

 

September 2015 – CDEC members and co-op employees 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 donated nearly $2,000 to enable CDEC to provide hot, holiday meals to about 50 families throughout the co-op's service area. In addition, about 25 turkeys were donated to the Grants and Gallup community food pantries, area senior centers and domestic violence shelters.

 

March 2016 – CDEC began a system-wide inventory of more than 62,000 poles, including attachments such as telephone and cable TV hardware. The digital cataloging has helped CDEC more accurately identify poles, locations and equipment in the event of outages and emergencies.

 

April 2016 – Continental Divide achieved the quorum necessary to conduct business at its annual 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 formalized the co-op's top management position as "Chief Executive Officer and General Manager." Language in the original bylaws generically referred to the position as "Manager." The second bylaw amendment allowed 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, was selected to represent New Mexico on the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association's Youth Leadership Council.
 

July 2016 – CDEC began upgrading to light-emitting diode (LED) street lamps and security lighting. CDEC's decision to phase out high-pressure sodium lighting helps reduce the co-op's carbon footprint throughout its service territory.

 

October 2016 – Cibola General Hospital in Grants, N.M., received $5,000 as the recipient of the 2016 CDEC/CoBank "Sharing Success" grant. The hospital used the money to offset costs to install energy-efficient LED security lighting in its parking lots and grounds.

 

December 2016 – CDEC and its employees raised more than $5,000 to purchase holiday gifts for nearly 70 service-area foster children. In addition, CDEC's Gallup Office provided about 15 backpacks with age-appropriate comfort items to the McKinley County office of the Children, Youth and Families Department, as part of the statewide "Pull Together" campaign.

 

February 2017 – CDEC and Kit Carson Electric Cooperative entered into a three-year agreement to build high-speed, fiber-optic internet communication in Grants, N.M. The pilot project enabled CDEC to begin upgrading its headquarters and Grants substation with state-of-the-art communication technology, as well as offer reliable, cost-effective broadband internet service to Grants residents and businesses.

 

April 2017 – CDEC did not take any official actions at its annual meeting. CDEC needed 556 registered co-op members. Only 483 registered. Keith Gottlieb of Cubero (At-Large) and Joe Hoskins of Thoreau (District 7) ran uncontested and retained their seats. Wes Malcolm of Bluewater was elected to represent District 2, which had been previously vacated by Lynn Head of Milan.

 

October 2017 – St. Joseph Mission School in San Fidel, N.M., received $5,000 as the recipient of the 2017 CDEC/CoBank "Sharing Success" grant. The school used the money to purchase 20 tablet computers, internet service and software.

 

December 2017 – CDEC and its employees raised more than $6,600 to purchase holiday gifts for about 170 residents of the Grants Good Samaritan Center, Casa del Malpais in Grants, the Sunny Day Center and Sundance Center in Gallup and the Ramah Adult Care Center.

 

February 2018 – Continental Divide purchases land in the Greater Grants Industrial Park on the east side of Grants for a new headquarters facility.

 

April 2018 – CDEC did not take any official actions at its annual meeting. CDEC needed 556 registered co-op members. Only 461 registered. No bylaw amendments were proposed. Board members Alfred Saavedra of San Rafael (District 5), Grant Clawson of Ramah (District 6) and Lyle Adair (District 8) ran uncontested and retained their seats.

 

August 2018Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association began the reconstruction of the Gallup Substation to improve reliability and accommodate additional capacity for future load growth in CDEC service territory served by the substation.

 

October 2018 – CDEC and the Littlewater Chapter of the Navajo Nation announced the completion of the Littlewater Chapter/White Ridge Power Line Project to provide electricity to 30 families east of Crownpoint, N.M. Obtaining the necessary rights-of-way to build the 11-mile extension took about 30 years.

 

November 2018 – Casa San Jose Child Care and Behavioral Health Center in Milan, N.M., received $5,000 as the recipient of the 2018 CDEC/CoBank "Sharing Success" grant. The Center used the money to purchase new laptops, printers, and software for a study area, as well as school supplies, art materials and backpacks.

 

November 2018 – CDEC announces an agreement to purchase 6.9 megawatts (MWs) of solar power from generating stations to be built in Grants and Bluewater N.M., by Lightsource BP. The agreement is for 100% of the renewable energy generated, at a fixed cost over 20 years. Both facilities will be operational by the start of 2020.

 

April 2019 CDEC did not take any official actions at its annual meeting. CDEC needed 557 registered co-op members. Only 517 registered. No bylaw amendments were proposed. Board member Alex Griego of Grants was re-elected to the District 1 seat. Claudio Romero of Seboyeta ran unopposed. And Lloyd Ortega of San Mateo was elected to the District 4 seat, formerly held by the late Arsenio Salazar, also of San Mateo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

200 E. High St., P.O. Box 1087, Grants, NM 87020 • (505) 285-6656
 

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