Delta-Montrose Rural Power Lines Association was organized in August, 1938. Three years earlier, the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) had been established by Executive Order No. 7037, signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, for the purpose of promoting rural electrification. At that time, only a small percentage of American farms had electricity because power companies located in the city had not found it economically feasible to construct lines to sparsely populated areas. The REA was established to act as a banker, providing low interest loans and technical assistance to cooperatives.
Electricity first flowed through Delta-Montrose Rural Power Lines Association's distribution system in May, 1939, serving 250 customers in the Pea Green area near Delta. Customers in the Delta, Hotchkiss, and Paonia areas were added in the following years.
Western Colorado Power Company (WCPC), an investor-owned utility, also provided electricity to the same territory as Delta-Montrose Rural Power Lines Association.
Frequently, the secondary and primary lines of Delta-Montrose Rural Power Lines Association and WCPC ran parallel to one another.
In 1971, the Public Utilities Commission of Colorado ordered an exchange of customers to correct this situation and consolidate certain areas. Two thousand (2,000) customers were affected in this consolidation.
In May, 1975, Delta-Montrose Rural Power Lines Association purchased a portion of the territory being served by WCPC, adding approximately 10,000 customers and 730 miles of line to their system. Because Delta-Montrose Rural Power Lines Association no longer served just rural areas, the "Rural Power Lines" was changed and the cooperative became Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA).
DMEA is a rural electric cooperative incorporated as a nonprofit corporation, owned by the customers it serves. Customers may become members when they apply for utility service.
The Board of Directors is elected from the service territory. The Board sets the policies and hires a General Manager to manage the Association. Each year, DMEA holds an annual meeting to which members are invited to attend.
DMEA is a distribution utility that buys power at wholesale rates and distributes the same to its customers over DMEA lines. The power is purchased from a generation and transmission utility. Revenue collected by DMEA that exceeds the cost of providing services becomes the Association's capital. From time to time, as financial conditions permit, the capital is retired and returned to the Association's customers in the form of cash.
DMEA is a private, non-profit cooperative owned by the members it serves. Customers become members when they apply for and receive electric service. Cooperative members have an ownership interest in their dollar investment, and at the same time an even more vital customer interest in the type, adequacy, and cost of service they receive.
At present, there are nine districts within the service territory of DMEA with one director elected from each district. These Directors set the policies and direction of the Association. They also hire a General Manager to carry out the objectives of the Board and to supervise the staff and employee group. This means people with a broad area of skills and experience work for the members, handling jobs which range from bookkeeping and accounting to engineering, line construction and maintenance of the DMEA electric system.
DMEA has district crews and warehouses to provide service throughout the two-plus county area. A dispatcher is on duty twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, to receive calls and route crews to assist customers in case of trouble.