EQUS’s of­fice move was growth re­lated

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Alberta - BY COLLIN GAL­LANT South­ern Al­berta News­pa­pers

The head of the ru­ral power co­op­er­a­tive in south­east Al­berta says mov­ing its re­gional head­quar­ters to Medicine Hat makes sense be­cause of the eco­nomic out­look around the city and area it serves along High­way 3.

“We see this as a growth area,” said Glen Fox, board chair at EQUS, be­fore a rib­bon-cut­ting and bar­be­cue for mem­bers.

“The (fa­cil­ity) will drive mem­ber­ship and that drives all of our costs down.”

The 10,000 square-foot shop and ad­ja­cent two-acre stor­age yard are lo­cated on Town­ship Road 120, near the Rangeroad 61A turnoff. It opened in March.

“It’s a fan­tas­tic look­ing fa­cil­ity, and I know the growth is go­ing to be there,” said Cy­press County Reeve Richard Oster, who helped cut the cer­e­mo­nial rib­bon along with Cy­press-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes.

He said the elec­tri­fi­ca­tion as­so­ci­a­tion model offers op­tions to ru­ral power con­sumers, and such groups are in­creas­ingly im­por­tant.

The com­pany op­er­ates in 26 ru­ral mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in Al­berta.

Its south­ern re­gion of­fice is based in Claresholm, but the Medicine Hat shop re­places one in Bow Is­land, where the en­tity was lo­cated since a se­ries of smaller REAs amal­ga­mated in the 1990s. The re­sult­ing South Alta REA joined with other as­so­ci­a­tions in Al­berta to form EQUS in 2013.

Orig­i­nally formed decades ear­lier to serve ir­ri­ga­tors and farms, where lines were costly and con­sid­ered a money loser by larger power com­pa­nies, the group now has a man­date to of­fer com­mer­cial and acreage own­ers power ser­vice.

Trudi Als­gard, man­ager of the lo­cal shop, says power needs are grow­ing, and along with more piv­ots on ex­pand­ing ir­ri­gated acres, more ru­ral dwellers are grow­ing the busi­ness.

“Our ser­vice area isn’t chang­ing, but the op­er­at­ing agree­ment al­lows us to grow,” she said.

EQUS han­dles con­struc­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion of lines, and the own­er­mem­ber model keeps costs low, said Als­gard.

The ser­vice area in the south­east stretches from Medicine Hat to Bow Is­land and from there south to the U.S. bor­der in the county of Forty Mile.

Photo by Collin Gal­lant

Six for­mer direc­tors of Ru­ral Elec­tri­fi­ca­tion As­so­ci­a­tions in the re­gion line up for a photo at the the open­ing of the new EQUS REA shop, lo­cated south of Medicine Hat, on Mon­day. Pic­tured are (right to left) Evert Van­der­berg, Wal­ter Ge­n­e­sis, Jack...

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