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Garkane offices to stay in Richfield

The verbal battle has come to an end, the ballots have been counted, reconciliation is now in order, and the headquarters of the Garkane Power Association will remain in Richfield.

These announcements came last month following a meeting of the utility's board of directors at Ruby's Inn near Bryce Canyon. The principal order of business was determining whether the headquarters would be moved to the small town of Hatch in Garfield County, a move that would have cost the cooperative upwards of $500,000.More consumer-members favored the move than rejected it, but there was not enough for a two-thirds majority of the total membership as required. The ballot count showed 1,884 in favor of the move, or 63 percent of the 2,988 valid ballots.

The issue has been a verbally heated one with the "North" pretty much against the "South." The North won. Consumer-members living in the northern sector of the service area (primarily Wayne and Piute counties) wanted the headquarters left in Richfield. Those in the southern sector (mostly in Garfield and Kane counties in Utah and Coconino and Mojave counties in Arizona) supported the move to Hatch.

The basic argument of the proponents was that the headquarters should be in the service area, and that Richfield is not served by Garkane but by Utah Power and Light Co. There are members in Sevier County, however.

Garkane's headquarters have been in Richfield for some 60 years. The cooperative was formed in the 1930s with borrowed money from the Rural Electrification Administration of the federal government. The government's program was designed to bring electrical power to small rural communities and outlying farms.

Garkane produces part of its electric power with plants near Boulder in Garfield County but, like REA cooperatives, purchases some wholesale power from the federal government and private electrical companies. The cooperative pays taxes like private utilities, has about $20 million in assets and gets an annual revenue of about $5 million, but it is nonprofit and returns any revenue above expenses back to the members in the form of consumer credits.