Coop Heritage

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High West Energy began as Rural Electric Company when a few far-sighted men persevered in a thankless job after everyone else thought it hopeless.

In 1936, a rumor started that central station power would soon be on the farm, where it could assist the farmer with lights and power. Many community meetings were held in southeastern Wyoming, northeastern Colorado and western Nebraska to make plans for what was to become Rural Electric Company.

After several meetings were held and community interest was increasing, a temporary board of directors was named in November 1936. Members of the first board of directors included Roy D. Smith, from Carpenter, Wyoming; Mark Byers, from Hereford, Colorado; Guy Smith, from Grover, Colorado; James P. Voigt, from Albin, Wyoming; Ben Brooks, from Briggsdale, Colorado; and H.O. Cooper, from Albin, Wyoming, who was named the first president of the Company.

A short time later, the board of directors appointed George Phillips, a local Pine Bluffs farmer, to promote and organize membership drives in various communities. A fee of five dollars was collected with each signed membership. Phillips was later appointed as the first manager of the Rural Electric Company.

In 1939, after nearly three years of diligent work by the board of directors and Phillips, word was received that a loan for 162 miles of line had been approved for Rural Electric Company.

In May of 1940, the first lines were energized and the Rural Electric Company was in business, with 500 consumers and $234,000 invested.

Phillips played an important role in starting Rural Electric Company with his untiring work. He took a lot of criticism, ridicule and abuse. And now, with the completion of what most everyone had agreed was an impossible task, he was acclaimed on all sides as a far-sighted and very capable organizer. Phillips continued to serve as general manager until February 1946.

B.E. Lyons, was then selected to supervise operations of the Rural Electric Company at Pine Bluffs. Under his management the Rural Electric Company grew to 2,675 miles of distribution line with 4,900 consumers including 700 irrigation wells. Lyons retired in 1976 after many years of hard work.

During the ’50s and ’60s the growth of the company was tremendous. Oil wells and irrigation wells were being converted to electric power, and line extensions were constructed to many new consumers in the tri-state area.

During this same period, the company had grown from 500 consumers to about 3,000 and 1,500 miles of line had been added.

In 1962, the missile program came about and the company found itself with more load than the lines could carry. A building program was undertaken to strengthen the system to provide adequate power for 98 missile sites, which were being constructed through our designated service area.

On July 15, 1999, Rural Electric Company changed its name to High West Energy to reflect our expanded programs and services. Today, High West Energy serves Laramie and Albany counties in Wyoming, Weld and Logan Counties in Colorado and Cheyenne, Kimball and Banner Counties in Nebraska.

The cooperative is governed by seven directors and a general manager who, along with all of the High West Energy employees, are responsible for providing the very best service to the member consumers.

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