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Alfalfa Electric Cooperative


Oklahoma Electric Cooperative


Caddo Electric Cooperative


Early-day photos of the electric co-ops incorporated in 1936 and 1937. Photos include annual meetings, electric appliances that served as give-away prizes, early-day co-op buildings, line crews, and a photo of President Harry S. Truman with an AVECC board member and Arkan- sas Governor. Photos courtesy of co-ops


electric cooperatives that were incorporated either in 1936 or in 1937. In honor of such a milestone, here are brief histories of these cooperatives. Through the summaries and the testimonies contained in this fea- ture, it becomes clear that rural electrifi cation was— indeed—the “next greatest thing.”


Cimarron Electric Cooperative Date of Incorporation: December 23, 1936


Ernie Bourquin, chairman of the Kingfisher County Commissioners and Marsh Sanders, a local merchant in Kingfi sher, led the way toward fulfi lling the rural electrifi cation dream in the Sooner State. Bourquin and Sanders were the pioneers of the fi rst rural electric cooperative in Oklahoma—then Con- sumers Rural Electric Company—which was incorpo- rated on December 23, 1936, and was one of the fi rst 10 electric cooperatives in the entire nation. The two gentlemen traveled to Washington D.C. to meet in person with President Roosevelt in order to fi nd out more about the Rural Electrifi cation Administration (REA). They came back home with an action plan. After a period of two months, they had recruited 440 members to receive electric service through the coop- erative. On December 4, 1937, all eyes were bright as the fi rst energized line was hooked up to trustee Earl Harrison’s home in Kingfi sher. In 1939, in order to comply with REA rules, the word “cooperative” had to be part of the company’s name. After a contest was held, the name Cimarron Electric Cooperative was chosen. Today, Cimarron Electric maintains 14,623 active meters on 4,438 miles of line in the counties of Blaine, Canadian, Custer, Dewey, Garfi eld, King- fi sher, Logan, Major and Oklahoma.


Oklahoma Electric Cooperative Date of Incorporation: January 13, 1937


In central Oklahoma, rural farmers were seeking to do what no electric company at the time was interest- ed in doing: bring electric power to their farms. Upon meeting the requirements to acquire a loan from the REA, the farmers’ dreams became a reality. Although some rural citizens were hesitant to sign up for the “electric,” several took the step of faith and paid the $5


20 OKLAHOMA LIVING


“One day I came home from school and there were big, long black poles lying in the fi eld near the road, spaced several yards apart. Soon there were holes dug, poles set and later the wire was in place. An electrician came from Carnegie and wired our house and the electric- ity was turned on. There was a tiny light bulb in a socket in the middle of those 12-foot ceilings. I thought it was the brighest light I ever saw. Mom learned how to make ice cream in the ice trays. Since we had plenty of milk and cream, that was really a treat.”


- Opal Dirickson, Caddo Electric member, Anadarko, Okla.


had hired a manager, secured an REA loan, signed a contract to purchase power from the City of Black- well and purchased an offi ce building. Line crews began constructing the fi rst section—approximately 275 miles—of power lines. The cooperative had more than 125 members by the end of the year and on Janu- ary 19, 1938, the fi rst line was energized. In February 1938, at Kay County Electric Cooperative’s fi rst An- nual Meeting, neighboring Grant Electric Coopera- tive—which had not yet started construction of its infrastructure nor secured a contract to purchase power—was consolidated with Kay County Electric. In August 1939, the co-op’s name was changed to Kay Electric Cooperative. By the end of 1941, the co-op had installed approximately 700 miles of line to serve 1,400 members. Today, Kay Electric has 5,643 active meters on 2,096 miles of line serving Garfi eld, Grant, Kay, Noble and Osage counties.


Alfalfa Electric Cooperative


membership fee for the assurance of having electric- ity in the near future. By October 1, 1936, nearly 700 enrollees in Cleveland and McClain counties had met the minimum requirements for establishing a cooperative. On January 13, 1937, Oklahoma Inter- County Electric Cooperative was incorporated. By the end of 1938, over 260 miles of line were energized, bringing electricity to 428 members. The coopera- tive’s original building was located on the corner of Main Street and North Webster Avenue in Norman. In 1939, the co-op shortened its name to Oklahoma Electric Cooperative (OEC). Today, OEC has 49,418 active meters on 5,321 miles of line, serving the coun- ties of Caddo, Canadian, Cleveland, Grady, McClain, Oklahoma and Pottawatomie.


Kay Electric Cooperative Date of Incorporation: February 5, 1937


In the northern part of the state—more specifi cally in Kay County—nearly a dozen community leaders headed up efforts to achieve the rural electrifi cation dream. Under the guidance of an REA agent, these cooperative pioneers worked diligently to promote their cooperative. They held meetings throughout the county to educate their neighbors and recruit new members. By the end of June, the co-op’s board


Date of Incorporation: February 15, 1937


In northwest Oklahoma, a group of farmers and ranchers were eager to see their farms brighter and enjoy the same conveniences found in larger urban centers. With that goal, the M.W.A. (representing Major, Woods, and Alfalfa counties) Electric Coop- erative was formed and incorporated on February 15, 1937. Although the co-op’s fi rst offi ce was located in Cherokee as it is up to the present day, Alfalfa Elec- tric did not provide service to the City of Cherokee until 1985. On April 20, 1937, the co-op’s name was shortened to Alfalfa County Electric Cooperative. And in 1939 the name was changed to Alfalfa Elec- tric Cooperative. Originally, Alfalfa served primarily agricultural loads, but a shift started taking place in the ‘70s and ‘80s for a tremendous amount of oil and gas loads. Currently, Alfalfa Electric has 8,124 active meters on 3,216 miles of line serving fi ve Oklahoma counties: Alfalfa, Garfi eld, Grant, Major, Woods; and two Kansas counties: Barber and Harper.


Caddo Electric Cooperative Date of Incorporation: March 13, 1937


Pioneers in southwest Oklahoma, around Caddo County, banded together to form their electric co-


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