About the Company
Farmers Started VEA
Although the VEA service territory is now, fast becoming more suburbanized, it was farmers in the Pahrump and Amargosa valleys who initially organized and formed the co-op in 1963. It was first known as the Amargosa Valley Cooperative. The co-op still serves substantial irrigation power loads in the Amargosa and Fish Lake valley portions of its service area. VEA’s residential members are the co-op’s biggest single consumer group.
Utilities Join to Form VEA
In the early 1960s, three other small utilities joined with the Amargosa Valley Co-op to eventually form what is the present-day VEA. The Amargosa Valley Cooperative bought the Amargosa Power Company and also the Beatty Utility Company. The White Mountain Electric Co-op in Fish Lake Valley then voted to use the AVC’s management, office, engineering and other services to lower its costs. In November 1964, these entities consolidated their joint efforts and on April 8, 1965, they all incorporated as Valley Electric Association, in large part because a single, united utility made it easier to secure funding for what the new co-op needed most, a transmission line.
REA Finances First Line
It was the mission of the Rural Electrification Administration, which then President Franklin D. Roosevelt had started in the mid-1930s, to electrify rural America. In May 1962, REA Administrator Norman Clapp approved a $3.94 million construction loan to the Amargosa Valley Co-op to build a 138 kilovolt (kv) transmission line; which was completed and energized in March 1963.
VEA Serves a Large Area
VEA’s service territory is even larger now than when it started, and it includes more than 6,800 square miles of land, located mainly along the California-Nevada border, but most of it in Nevada. In the south, the service area starts in Sandy Valley, southwest of Las Vegas, and extends for more than 250 miles to Fish Lake Valley and beyond (roughly halfway to Reno), in the north. The co-op’s service area is larger than the states of Rhode Island and Connecticut combined. In early 1963, when the Amargosa Valley Co-op built the 138 kilovolt (kv) transmission line and transported lower-cost hydroelectric-generated energy from dams on the Colorado River into then sparsely-populated Nye County, Nevada, the co-op served a total of only 607 meters.
Growth Spurs a New Line
The 138 kv transmission line served the co-op well in a primary capacity until member and load growth in the service area forced VEA to build a new transmission line, a 230 kv transmission line. Construction on the 230 kv line started in June 1995, and it was completed and energized a little more than nine months later. In the summer of 1996, power use in the service area skyrocketed, so much so that, without the new 230 kv line, the 138 kv transmission line would not have been able to handle consumer demand.
For many years, our main office was located in Las Vegas. In 1981, the co-op built a new office in Pahrump, a central location within our service territory. That facility served the co-op well until load growth required a new, larger headquarters building. VEA's current headquarters campus opened for business in October 1997.
VEA Looks to the Future
Planning for increased load demand and accommodating member growth are among the challenges VEA faces as it looks to the future. VEA does not generate any of the electrical energy it supplies to members and must buy most of its power on the open power market. Another challenge is finding the lowest cost wholesale power available to minimize rate increases to VEA members. Just as the early farmers successfully faced daunting challenges in the 1960s, VEA expects to also successfully overcome any future challenges. At present, VEA provides electricity to over 17,000 memberships and to a total of 22,000 meters.