This year marks the 75th anniversary of Covington Electric Cooperative.
CEC was organized in 1944 by farmers and neighbors who could not persuade city-based or investor-owned electric companies to build power lines to the rural communities. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s executive order in 1935 created the Rural Electrification Administration (REA), and in 1936 Congress endorsed Roosevelt’s action by passing the Rural Electrification Act. This enabled farmers and other rural citizen groups across the country to borrow money from the federal government to put power lines up themselves.
Anyone who wanted to buy electricity from these new rural electric cooperatives had to first become a member, at a price of $5. That membership had many benefits including an opportunity to serve on the board of trustees for the cooperative.
That benefit, and many more, still exists today and the membership fee is still $5. CEC, like hundreds of other rural electric cooperatives across the nation, is an organization that is owned and controlled by the members who buy electricity from it. And because cooperatives do not have stockholders, any profits the utility does not need to keep the business running are returned to its members in the form of capital credits.
We owe the pioneering citizens, who helped form CEC, our appreciation for their foresight and perseverance. There are still many people alive today who remember what life was like without electricity and the day their homes illuminated at night for the very first time. The coming of electricity to rural America was truly a life-changing event with an impact that really can’t be measured.
In the late 1930s and early 1940s, there were frequent meetings among neighbors to discuss the formation of cooperatives. Once established, cooperative annual meetings were the “must attend” event of the year. The co-ops, on behalf of their members, committed to provide rural communities with electricity and it was truly a monumental feat in American history.
Fast forward to 2019. CEC currently serves approximately 23,500 meters in parts of six counties with just over 2,700 miles of power lines. CEC has the equipment, tools and training needed to provide electricity in a safe and reliable manner to its members. CEC understands the spirit that helped create the co-op must be continually preserved. While times and technology will continually change, its commitment to the CEC membership will never waiver.
Although CEC was established to provide electricity, it has done so much more. CEC enhanced the quality of life for its members and this deep-rooted commitment will continue to be a driving force in the future.
CEC listens to its members and understands that it must keep pace as technology and preferences evolve. As always, CEC welcomes member participation as they plan for the next 75 years. CEC is very proud of its historical impact and they look forward to serving their members in the future.