Innovation + Technology Update: An Exciting New Era in Your Co-op’s Legacy

The Cooperative Advantage – March 2022 CCL CEO Article

By Jim Herron, MVEA CEO

The baton pass: John Rohr, retired MVEA general manager, and Jim Herron, MVEA CEO, in a photo from the July 1996 issue when John welcomed Jim to MVEA. Jim will retire in June.

I recently had the chance to revisit the July 1996 Colorado Country Life article that served as my official printed introduction to Mountain View Electric Association’s membership. In the article, John Rohr, MVEA’s general manager from 1981 to 1996, passed the baton to me with these parting words: “I am confident that Jim has all the necessary qualifications and attributes to lead Mountain View into the 21st century. Our co-op has always been a leader in the state, and I know it will continue as one.” The article made me chuckle a bit and take a moment to reflect on the last 26 years of serving MVEA’s membership as I ready myself to pass the baton to MVEA’s next chief executive officer when I retire in June.

My retirement will come at the start of an exciting era for the co-op and MVEA members alike. We continue to realize the full potential of the recently upgraded digital meters to better serve our members through account management tools and streamlined business processes. And, in the next 60 days, the first Connect, powered by Mountain View Electric Association, customers will enjoy access to a fiber broadband network that will play an important role in closing Colorado’s digital divide.

I have mentioned it before, but it bears repeating — this is a project that has been over 25 years in the making. MVEA had long sought a solution for the lack of reliable and affordable high-speed internet available to the co-op communities we serve. Our partnership with Conexon Connect is a model that fits the needs of the cooperative, benefits the membership, and received unanimous support from the MVEA Board of Directors. Our co-op members deserve to participate in life just like residents in a major city. Once gigabit-speed fiber is available across our service territory, members in underserved areas like Simla and Calhan will have faster internet speeds than those living in many major metropolitan areas.

Shortly after the broadband expansion announcement was made last June, we learned two things quickly: MVEA members across our service territory are very excited, and everyone would like to be the first to have access to the high-speed internet services available through the fiber broadband network!

After thoughtful consideration, we decided to begin construction in the communities served by the substations near our Falcon and Limon offices. Starting in these areas will allow MVEA to build out a network with redundancy which will ultimately benefit the membership as a whole. How? This construction path will enable our network to be connected to the internet backbone in 2 different places; so, if one feed fails, the system and the associated smart-grid technology can be fed from another source without interruption.

Even though we’ve begun the first phase in portions of Falcon, Limon, Black Forest, and Colorado Springs, it is a tremendous point of pride that when complete this 5,800-mile project will ultimately reach across 100% of MVEA’s service territory; not just highly populated areas. An additional project benefit is that the fiber infrastructure will be member-owned, just like the other assets of the cooperative.

The second phase of construction is currently being discussed. Factors such as substation size, system redundancy, and the need for access are all considered when planning where the broadband network will be built next. To learn more about the project, please visit our broadband. You will find helpful resources like project FAQs as well as a link to check for service availability.

I look forward to sharing some career highlights and memories made over the course of my time serving the co-op membership while joining the MVEA Board of Directors in welcoming the co-op’s next CEO, electing Directors to District 3 and 5, and more during the 81st Annual Meeting of Members on June 2 at Limon Public Schools in Limon. I hope to see you there!

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