Owned By the People We Serve
A small group of Copper Basin residents met in 1952 to plan the formation of a Rural Electrification Administration (REA) cooperative. They demonstrated confidence in the future development of rural Alaska. At that time Central Alaskan Missions (CAM) generated power for its own needs and that of some nearby Glennallen residents. Vince Joy, the founder of CAM, saw the possibilities of rural electrification and stimulated the community to organize an Association. When the first general meeting was held in May of 1955, those initial board members could not have foreseen that the tiny co-op would grow from 38 to roughly 2700 members (Jan 2018) and provide electricity to approximately 8,000 people.
Rural Electrification Administration
Old Engine Members of CVEA are beneficiaries of President Roosevelt's New Deal. It was FDR who established the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) by executive order on May 11, 1935. Strongly supported by farmers and rural residents, the idea of government support and financing for rural electrification was adamantly opposed by urban power companies and many members of Congress. After much argument, th Rural Electrification Act was passed by Congress in May of 1936, providing funding for REA loans so that cooperatives could organize. After nearly seven years of planning, arranging REA financing, design and construction, the switch was thrown. In February of 1959, the first power from CVEA's diesel generating plant went through 48 miles of line.
Since 1959 CVEA has been providing electrical service to the residents of the Copper River Basin, and since 1964 to the Valdez community. The cooperative has met not only the routine challenges of weather and distance, but the extraordinary ones of earthquakes, avalanches, pipeline construction, and the development of hydro power. Sixty years of service have brought great growth to the co-op, and yet some of the greatest challenges lie ahead.
The Great Alaska Earthquake on Good Friday, March 27, 1964, shook the state with almost unimaginable force. At the Glennallen plant, power was shut down for only four hours. Valdez, however, was virtually destroyed, and the city was relocated. The owner of the existing facilities, Owen P. Meals, did not have the means to restore service. CVEA bought the generation and distribution facilities and extended electricity to the new Valdez, as well as servicing those members left in the original town site.
Copper Valley Telephone Cooperative
Also in 1964 CVEA was instrumental in developing the Copper Valley Telephone Cooperative by providing management, accounting, and maintenance support to the fledgling Association. Telephone service was extended to the CVEA service area. In just ten years, the demand on both utilities was so great that the CVEA/CVTC Board voted to separate the utilities in July 1974. At the time the organization was split, the decision was made to headquarter the telephone cooperative in Valdez and the electric cooperative in Glennallen.
Copper Valley Electric Association
Mile 187 Richardson Hwy
Glennallen, AK 99586