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operative and bring light to farms marked by drudgery. Caddo Electric Cooperative was incor- porated on March 13, 1937. Billie Bryan was the co-op’s fi rst general manager, a position he held until his retirement in 1973. The fi rst loan from REA was used to pay for building 170 miles of line to serve approximately 490 members in Caddo, Grady and Comanche counties. The fi rst cooperative offi ce was located in Albert where desk space was rented in a corner of the post of- fi ce for $5 a month. Later, when more room was needed, the offi ce was moved to Main Street in Binger. Binger merchants bought the building in 1939 and donated it to the Cooperative. The building served as headquarters for Caddo Electric until the new offi ce building was built in 1977. To- day, Caddo Electric has 18,094 active meters on 4,613 miles of line serving the counties of Blaine, Caddo, Canadian, Comanche, Custer, Grady, Kiowa, and Washita.


Red River Valley Rural Electric Association Date of Incorporation: April 15, 1937


In southern Oklahoma, Ware C. High was the man with a mission: he was determined to bring electric- ity to his corner of the state. High formed a 10-per- son committee to canvas Love County for support of a co-op. While there were doubtful farmers who thought electricity would not come to such a remote area, the committee was successful in its mission: recruiting 500 members for the co-op. On April 15, 1937, Red River Valley Rural Electric Association was incorporated. High was elected the fi rst president of the Board of Directors, and the fi rst co-op offi ce was established in Marietta on the corner of Front and Main Streets. While gearing up for construction, the board faced its fi rst obstacle. Only 200 of the 500 enrollees would agree to wire their homes to receive electricity. The decision was made to expand the co- op to include Marshall and Jefferson Counties. By the end of 1938, initial electric lines were completed. A total of 160 miles of line provided service to an ini- tial 150 members along the way. Currently, Red River Valley Rural Electric Association maintains 14,887 active meters on 2,661 miles of line in the counties of Carter, Jefferson, Johnston, Love and Marshall.


People’s Electric Cooperative Date of Incorporation: May 22, 1937


Tulsa River Parks paved bike trail


Farmers and ranchers in southeastern Oklahoma were eager to improve their quality of life and lessen the intense labor of life on the farm. Like most farm- ers, they loved their farms too much to even con- sider moving to a city. They wanted to go after their dream. As a result, 10 pioneering men organized the Interstate Cooperative Electric and Power Company. They sold 2,000, $5 shares of stock, door-to-door, to rural dwellers eager to electrify their homes. Having 2,000 paid stockholders in the company, the direc- tors negotiated the fi rst fi nancial loan with the REA in March of 1938. The loan consisted of $135,000 to construct 125 miles of line serving approx-


and Pocola, Okla. The fi rst 57 miles of power line were energized in December 1938 to provide electric service to 114 meters. The average mem- ber had a monthly electric bill of $3.00 and used approximately 30 kWh (kilowatt hours). Today, AVEC owns and maintains 70,161 active meters on 8,148 miles of line.


Southwest Rural Electric Association


Southwest Rural Electric Association Date of Incorporation: December 8, 1937


“I was 10 when we fi rst got elec- tricity. I loved it. I liked to turn the switch on, and dad would get on our case for not turning it off. We would turn it on so all our neighbors would know we had electricity. It was a big step for us. At that time we were still going to an outhouse. We had kerosene lamps in our bedrooms and we had to take turns to use them. The fi rst appliance we got was a Hamilton Beach electric mixer. My mom was a bread baker. She was so excited.”


- Doyle Steffen, former Kay Electric member, Blackwell, Okla.


Local organizers in southwest Oklahoma were hard at work organizing a co-op, sign- ing up members, forming power agreements, and building lines—it was a dream becoming a re- ality through Southwest Rural Electric Association (SWRE), which was incorporated on December 8, 1937. During 1938, the co-op built its fi rst 26 miles of power lines near Altus. The first energizing of SWRE’s distribution lines took place at the Altus Municipal Power Plant, on December 13, 1938, at 2:39 p.m. At that time, Altus Mayor Bert Holt pulled the switch releasing energy from the plant to SWRE’s Altus substation. The current was then released at 2:52 p.m., energizing the fi rst 26 miles of SWRE line. Lines were expanded to Tillman and Kiowa counties in 1939. Subsequently, lines were built in Wilbarger and Foard Counties, Texas, in 1939 and they were en- ergized in 1940. The original 1937 SWRE headquar- ters was located in a storefront in downtown Tipton. In 1942, the fi rst SWRE building was constructed at its present site in Tipton. Currently, SWRE owns and maintains 7,765 meters on 2,999 miles of line serving fi ve Oklahoma counties: Comanche, Greer, Jackson, Kiowa and Tillman; and six Texas counties: Archer, Baylor, Foard, Hardeman, Wichita and Wilbarger. OL


imately 470 customers in Coal, Hughes and Pontotoc counties. Due to new provisions in the Rural Electric Cooperative Act, the Interstate Cooperative Electric and Power Company was converted to a non-profi t, membership corporation called People’s Electric Co- operative (PEC). This motion was passed on July 29, 1939. All $5 shares of stock were then transferred into $5 memberships, which is the same cost of mem- bership today. Currently, PEC owns and maintains 20,565 active meters on 4,767 miles of line serving the counties of Atoka, Carter, Coal, Garvin, Hughes, Johnston, McClain, Murray, Pittsburg, Pontotoc and Seminole.


Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative Date of Incorporation: August 16, 1937


Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative (AVEC) was organized in 1937 by a group of farmers and busi- nessmen from Crawford, Logan and Johnson Coun- ties in west-central Arkansas. It has since expanded to three Oklahoma counties: Adair, LeFlore, and Sequoyah; and 10 Arkansas counties: Crawford, Franklin, Johnson, Logan, Madison, Newton, Pope, Scott, Sebastian and Yell. AVEC is a not-for-profi t corporation headquartered in Ozark, Ark. District offi ces are located in Waldron and Van Buren, Ark.,


Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative


“Mom said they had the house wired for electricity, but had to wait weeks or months until the lines were completed. One day they came home after dark and the lights were on in the house. The next day they went straight to Frederick and bought a refrigerator. She said we ate ice cream every day for a month.”


- Jerry McKinley, SWREA member, Frederick, Okla.


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