Vastness and variety set Montana co-op apart

Park River Electric Cooperative's service area. Park River Electric is a member of Basin Electric Class A member Central Montana Electric.

Central Montana Electric’s distribution cooperatives serve some of the most rural areas in Montana. The co-op’s CEO Doug Hardy says these areas are “far past the federal definition of rural – they’re frontier.”

Hardy says four of its member cooperatives have, on average, just under three-quarters of one member per mile of line. “When we say we’re here to serve rural America, this is exactly the place we’re talking about,” he says.

But not all of the co-op’s service area is rural. It also serves more urban areas such as the Billings, Montana, area, which is growing significantly as the city is expanding. Hardy says the members at the end of the electrical lines are “wonderful, salt of the earth Montanans.”

The co-op’s service area is as diverse as the state of Montana itself. Just as the state consists of plains and snow-capped mountains, Central Montana Electric serves members at elevations as low as 2,000 and as high as 9,000 feet above sea level.

To read more about Basin Electric Class A member Central Montana Electric Power Cooperative and CEO Doug Hardy sharing the lessons he has learned while working in the rural electric industry for 48 years, read Vastness and variety set Montana co-op apart in the Spring 2022 issue of Basin Today.