Holy Cross Electric Association, Inc. was organized in 1939 by a strong and independent group of farmers and ranchers in the Roaring Fork and Eagle River valley to bring electric service to these rural areas for the first time. Efforts to obtain electricity from private power companies had failed. Their first meeting was held in Eagle, Colorado, to incorporate the Association and to elect the first Board of Directors. There were ten original Directors, two of whom were women. “Holy Cross” was accepted as the official name of the Rural Electrification Administration REA cooperative at the meeting. Paul W. Brown, a county extension agent, suggested the co-op be named after the Mount of the Holy Cross near Minturn, Colorado.
These rural leaders turned to the REA for a loan to build power lines in the two valleys. They were successful in obtaining a $119,000 loan. In September of 1941, the first lines were energized, bringing the benefits of electricity to about 175 families in the Roaring Fork and upper Eagle River valley. From 1941 through 1961, Holy Cross grew and expanded its service area by purchasing the Eagle River Electric Company in 1943 and Mountain Utilities of Aspen in 1954. Power was extended in 1950 to portions of the lower valley, Cattle Creek, Spring Valley, Woody Creek, Crystal River valley, Fryingpan, and Sweetwater. Eventually, in 1958, it was extended to the upper Vail Valley, Gunnison County, and Marble.
In 1962, a tremendous growth era began and has been taking place ever since. The development of the Vail area began in 1962 and “Ski Country, USA” was born. In 1962, HCE served about 2,300 consumers. By 1971 (less than 10 years later), HCE had almost quadrupled in size, serving approximately 8,700 consumers. This period also saw the birth and development of another major ski area and resort, Snowmass Village. The growth of other Aspen skiing facilities also continued at a fast pace. In 1998, Holy Cross Electric Association, Inc. changed its name to Holy Cross Energy in response to a movement in the electric utility industry to deregulate the industry and introduce open competition. Similarly, the logo featuring the Mount of the Holy Cross gave way to a three-part circular laurel design.
The new name and logo exhibited energy, forward movement, and diversity to convey HCE’s expanded services and direction. The expansion of HCE has come a long way and will certainly present a challenge during the years to come. HCE’s mission statement states: “Holy Cross Energy provides safe, reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy and services that improve the quality of life for our members and their communities.”
Today, Holy Cross Energy is a cooperative corporation with 167 employees serving more than 45,000 members with 60,000 meters. Holy Cross Energy proudly serves its members from major ski resorts in the Aspen and Vail areas as well as farms, ranches, and friendly rural communities that provide people and resources for the tourist and outdoor recreation industries.