The frontier spirit has always been strong among the residents of rural Southwestern Nevada. When we needed water, we dug our own wells. When we needed food, we plowed our own fields. And when we needed electricity, we founded our own energy cooperative.
Southwestern Nevada was too sparsely populated for the big, investor-owned utility companies to bother serving. So we rolled up our sleeves, kicked our spirit of self-reliance into high gear, and got to work raising utility poles, stringing transmission wires, and negotiating deals to stream electricity into our homes and businesses.
Valley Electric Association was consolidated in 1965 from four early power companies serving distant communities in our corner of the state: Amargosa Valley Electric Cooperative, Beatty Utility Company, Pahrump Utility Company, and White Mountain Electric Cooperative in Fish Lake Valley. These companies joined forces because they understood a basic principle of the cooperative model: we are stronger together.
Valley Electric Association employs about 160 teammates to serve more than 45,000 people across a 6,800-square-mile area in Southwest Nevada. We are headquartered in Pahrump, with a satellite office in Las Vegas.
Valley Electric Association operates as a member-owned energy cooperative. This means that each member that receives electricity through our transmission grid is also an owner of VEA. This “member-owner” status gives each person a voice in how their cooperative operates, and also a responsibility to ensure VEA remains strong and stable. The cooperative model allows member-consumers to democratically elect their leadership, and any member can become part of that leadership team. Currently, VEA boasts 17,500 member-consumers who participate in the governance of the coop.
As one of approximately 900 member-owned electric cooperatives in the U.S., VEA is part of a network that serves nearly 80 percent of the country’s land mass.
VEA is a Touchstone Energy Cooperative member. Touchstone membership empowers VEA to take advantage of a national energy network, improving reliability while keeping costs low. Moreover, Touchstone provides technical expertise so VEA’s local systems are among the highest caliber in the nation.
VEA employees live and work in the communities we serve, so VEA makes it a point to give back to those communities. We organize and staff school supply drives, provide scholarships to local students, and fund community holiday meals. For a listing of how VEA gives back to our members and local communities, please visit our Community page.
In addition to our residential members, VEA provides electricity to local businesses, schools, and hospitals. Moreover, some of the nation’s most important national security operations trust VEA with their energy supply. VEA is proud to serve the electricity needs of the Nevada National Security Site and Creech Air Force Base.
With our roots firmly in place and our member-consumers enjoying reliable, affordable electricity access, VEA is branching out into new projects and services that will meet our members’ needs in a fast-changing world.
In 2013, VEA became the first out-of-state utility to join the California Independent System Operator organization (CAISO). This membership enables VEA access to the enormous California market, creating revenue opportunities that we can reinvest in our local economies. In 2016, Nevadans declared at the ballot box that they want energy choice. Consumer choice will allow VEA new opportunities to serve Nevadans.
Harnessing the power of solar energy is a no-brainer in our hot, sunny region. That’s why VEA invested in our 80-acre, 15-megawatt Community Solar Project north of Pahrump. Not only does this allow us to be more energy self-sufficient, it allows our members to enjoy renewable energy. But the sun only shines half the day, so how can we keep the lights on with no sunlight hitting the solar panels? With renewable energy storage solutions, we can power our homes similar to how we power our portable electronic devices. Saving mid-day electricity for a midnight movie marathon will keep costs down by reducing demand from the energy grid, especially during peak hours.
Universal electricity service was once the goal for rural America. Then telephone service. Now, high-speed internet has become a necessity of modern life, and VEA wants every member to have access to the web. That is why in 2015 we founded VCA: Valley Communications Association. VCA is busy stringing high-speed fiber optic cables alongside our existing electricity lines. Utilizing our current infrastructure saves money, and it also enables direct home connections to keep speeds high. Where stringing new cables isn’t efficient, we build towers that provide lightning-fast wireless internet across entire valleys. Find out more information at www.valleycom.com
These undertaking are just the beginning. From domestic solar water heaters to electric vehicle charging stations, VEA recognizes that the possibilities are endless. That’s why we are constantly brainstorming new ways to serve our members’ needs before they arrive. At Valley Electric Association, innovation is a cornerstone of our path to future success.
In 1965, VEA stepped up and provided a necessary service to those who lacked it. We have been doing this every day since. Helping rural and underserved communities is in our DNA. Everything we do is for our members, not shareholders or investors. VEA will continue evolving in order to provide the latest and highest quality services possible to our customers across Nevada.