Area electric cooperative celebrates annual meeting

Aufdengarten new director

FORT STOCKTON – The Rio Grande Electric Cooperative met with its members for the 73rd time, this year in Fort Stockton where area rancher Ellery Aufdengarten was elected as a director for a three-year term.

Presidio businessman Jake Giesbrecht was the other candidate for District 7, which includes most of Jeff Davis, Presidio, and Brewster counties.

Aufdengarten replaces Mark Daugherty on the board of directors.

RGEC has the largest service territory of any electric cooperative in the contiguous United States, serving 18 counties in Texas, from El Paso, parts of the Permian Basin, to Eagle Pass, and two counties in New Mexico, which covers about 35,000 square miles, according to the company. It was organized in 1945 as part of the federal rural electrification program to bring power to rural customers.

CEO Roger Andrade and COO Theresa Quiroz reported that RGEC had a good year and that growth is occurring in the industrial oil and gas sector.

Communications Director Cindy Edwards added that residential growth also is occurring in the Eagle Pass area.

She also said the development of the Delaware Basin in Far West Texas is a bright spot. “The energy sector is a major contributing factor.”

Aufdengarten and his family run the Fort Davis-based Aufdengarten Cattle Co. in Brewster, Jeff Davis, and Presidio counties.

He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Ag Business from Sul Ross in 1981 and began ranching immediately, according to his nominating statement.

He’s served on the Highland Soil and Water Conservation District board from 1993-2002. He and his wife Debbie have three grown children, two boys and their wives also ranch in Presidio County, and a daughter and her husband have the Convenience West barbecue restaurant in Marfa.

Giesbrecht grew up in Canada and has been in Presidio for 23 years. He owns Bullet Transport, a trucking and logistics firm that does business between Mexico and Texas.

He’s the current executive director of the Presidio International Port Authority, representing the interests of the city of Presidio and Presidio County in the expansion of the international bridge. He is a seven-year board member of the Presidio Municipal Development District, In Mexico, Giesbrecht has served as the state of Chihuahua economic development district director for the past 12 years.

“My wife and I have enjoyed our 60 acres with our 7 children just four miles west of Presidio on FM road 170 for about 10 years now we have become familiar with the challenges Rio Grande Electric faces everyday especially in the extreme weather changes we have in the Big Bend area, and the many miles of line it maintains,” he said in his nominating statement.

It was a festive affair as dozens of door prizes – TVs, coolers, a robot vacuum cleaner, tools, and coop electricity gift certificates – were won by members and their families, and a barbecue lunch was served by the world-famous Odessa Chuckwagon Gang.

The Balmorhea Volunteer Fire Department took home a $23,000 donation. Firefighters said the department had been gifted a pickup truck, and the RGEC donation would be used to put brush fire equipment on the vehicle.

RGEC currently employs 149 people to serve 6,513 members with 13,540 meters. It maintains offices in Alpine, Brackettville, Carrizo Springs, Dell City, El Paso, and Fort Stockton, with the Brackettville office serving as corporate headquarters.

The Co-op maintains 9,912 miles of Energized Line of which 126 miles are Transmission Line, 187 miles are Underground Line, and 9,599 are Overhead Energized Line.

RGEC maintains the electrical distribution systems for Ft. Bliss-El Paso, and Laughlin Air Force Base-Del Rio.

Counties the coop serves are Brewster, Crockett, Culberson, Dimmit, Edwards, El Paso, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Kinney, Maverick, Pecos, Presidio, Reeves, Terrell, Uvalde, Val Verde, Webb and Zavala in Texas, and Eddy and Otero Counties in New Mexico.