Who Is CREA and Who Are Colorado’s Electric Cooperatives?

The Colorado Rural Electric Association neither generates nor distributes electricity. CREA represents and serves 21 of Colorado’s 22 electric cooperatives, that do distribute electricity, and Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, which generates the electricity for 17 of the state’s 22 co-ops. (Four member co-ops purchase their electricity from Xcel Energy and one purchases its electricity elsewhere.)

In total, CREA’s member cooperatives serve nearly 1.5 million rural electric consumers in Colorado. Co-op service territory covers over 70% of the landmass of Colorado, reaching all four corners of the state and serving all or a portion of every county except Denver City and County.

Electric co-ops are not-for-profit businesses owned by those to whom they provide electricity.

Anyone within the co-ops’ certificated service territory is eligible for electric service regardless of race, sex, national origin, religious and/or political affiliation.

In Colorado, electric co-ops have built a system that includes nearly 80,000 miles of power lines and employs more than 2,500 people. Each of the 22 distribution co-ops are unique.

Some serve mountain territories and provide the power for ski lifts and snowmaking. Others serve the plains where they provide electricity for irrigation, farming and ranching. The state’s smallest co-op serves just over 3,000 meters. The state’s largest co-op serves nearly 150,000 meters and is growing. Some co-ops serve oil and gas development; others serve some of the poorest counties in the country.

On average, Colorado’s electric co-ops have only 7.9 members per mile of line, compared to investor-owned utilities such as Xcel Energy, which average 34 customers per mile of line, and municipal utilities, which average 48 customers per mile of line.

Electric co-ops were formed in the 1930s — with the first Colorado electric co-op being established in 1936 — because 90% of the farms and ranches in the U.S. did not have the electricity available in their towns and cities. Today, those electric co-ops are a vital part of local communities across Colorado and continue to provide the even more vital electricity to their member-owners — all with assistance and cooperation from CREA.