WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY (Washington County, Utah)
DIXIE RURAL ELECTRIC ASSOCIATION
St. George, Utah
HISTORYDixie Rural Electric Association was organized in 1946 because St. George City Power and Southern Utah Power Company declined to serve homes and farms in the St. George and Washington Fields area. Evan Woodbury headed up the organization of Dixie REA which operated independently for about 25 years until it merged with Littlefield Electric Cooperative, Inc. in 1974. In 1978, the two merged with Escalante Valley Electric Association, Inc.. R. Leon Bowler, who had been serving as General Manager of both Escalante Valley REA and Dixie REA, assumed the reins of General Manager of Dixie Escalante Rural Electric Association in 1978 after the merger. Under Bowler's leadership, membership in the cooperative had grown to 10,000. The combined service territory of the three merged REAs included Newcastle, Beryl, Modena, Pine Valley, Bloomington, Bloomington Hills, and Washington Fields, in Utah and Littlefield, Arizona.
During the late sixties, the Utah Public Service Commission issued certificated areas of operations. This agenda was supported by the investor owned utility operating in the area. The I.O.U. had lower power rates at the time and attempted to expand their operating territory by acquiring one certificated area after another using rate differential as a lure. R. Leon Bowler resisted the invitations to sell out the cooperative and declined the sweetheart job offers offered by the I.O.U. Bowler’s actions over time proved to be in the best interests of the cooperative members. Today there is not a better picture of a utility so well supported by its constituency anywhere in the West.
Dixie Power has been instrumental in converting several square miles of rural area into a number of new subdivisions in the Bloomington/Bloomington Hills and Washington Fields area.
In 1996, Dixie Power paid off all of its outstanding loans with the Rural Electric Administration and became fully privately funded with the Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC). This independent financing source has allowed Dixie Power a great amount of flexibility to more fully serve its customers and help the community. Dixie Power has been a participant in funding infrastructure for industrial and commercial business development as well as assisting local area contractors in the development of several subdivisions.
On April 1, 2008, R. Leon Bowler, long time manager of Dixie Power retired after 55 years in the electrical industry. He steered the company successfully through the years forming a large multimillion dollar utility. Leon successfully kept Dixie Power rates low and leaves a legacy of superb management skills in the rural electric industry.
The management reins were passed to LaDel Laub, who served as Assistant General Manager for years prior to becoming General Manager in 2008. In 2009, the title of General Manager was changed to President / CEO. Mr. Laub is a graduate of Enterprise High School, Dixie State College, and Southern Utah University, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with an Accounting minor.
Mr. Laub continues to work on keeping rates low in a down economy. He asked for consumer/owners to participate in a grassroots effort to educate Senators on the impact of potential legislation regarding the Carbon Tax/Cap and Trade legislation. He trimmed the 2009 and 2010 expenditures to achieve small margins, to keep rates at the same historically low level.
In 2009, Mr. Laub recommended to the Board of Directors to change the Annual Meeting to three meetings, allowing consumers/members to conveniently attend the Annual Meeting in their district. With the approved change, the membership attendance almost doubled. The Arizona District met in Beaver Dam, Arizona, The Escalante Valley & Pine Valley Districts, met in Pine Valley, and the Dixie Districts meeting was in St. George.
REFERENCESHistory of the Dixie Escalante Rural Electric Association, now doing business as Dixie Power