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Powerful Living


East Central Oklahoma Electric Cooperative


Cotton Electric Cooperative


Rural Electric Cooperative


‘The Day of Light’ 75 Years of Bringing Light to Oklahoma By Anna Politano and Co-op Editors T


imes were challenging in the 1930s as America recovered from the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl clouded Oklahoma. Profi t-oriented electric companies had little interest in furnishing sparsely populated rural areas with electric power. To them, it was not fi nancially sound to build power lines and supply electric service outside well-populated urban centers. It was in this scenario that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt brought ‘light’ to rural America. Through his efforts, the Rural Electrifi cation Administration (REA) was established in


1935. As a result, in 1936 the Rural Electrifi cation Act was created to provide federal loans to member-owned rural electric cooperatives for the establishment of electrical distribution systems in rural areas.


Pioneers in Oklahoma headed up the efforts to electrify their portion of the state. Community leaders, farmers, ranchers and their families came together to bring light to farms and


towns. One by one, electric cooperatives were formed, brightening rural areas in the Sooner State. Today, 28 distribution electric cooperatives serve the state’s 77 counties. The year of 2013 marks the 75th anniversary of nine of the distribution electric cooperatives that were incorporated in 1938. In honor of such a milestone, here are brief histories of these cooperatives. Through the summaries and the testimonies contained in this feature, it becomes clear that rural electrifi cation was—indeed—the “next greatest thing.”


Ozarks Electric Cooperative Date of Incorporation: May 16, 1938


On May 16, 1938, supporters of the rural electric movement met to establish Ozarks Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation in Fayetteville, Ark. One year later, the fi rst 100 families had electricity. By the summer of 1940, additional REA funding was secured to reach into Adair and Cherokee Counties in Oklahoma and electricity was delivered to Ozarks Electric’s fi rst 270 Oklahoma members in 1941. By November 1941, Ozarks Electric had 1,515 members before the United States was drawn in to WWII, which halted construction and progress of the growing rural electric movement. When the war ended in 1945, Ozarks Electric had more than 3,000 applications from new members. In 1954, Ozarks acquired the power lines serving Watts, Okla., and Westville, Okla., adding 722 accounts and a 15-square-mile service area. Ozarks has main- tained steady growth through the marketing of all electric homes in the ‘60s, through the oil embargo of the ‘70s, and the endorsement of energy effi cient building standards of the ‘80s. Today, the cooperative maintains more than 6,700 miles of lines that serve 69,000 meters in fi ve Arkansas counties and in the Oklahoma counties of Delaware, Cherokee, Adair and Sequoyah.


6 WWW.OK-LIVING.COOP


Kiwash Electric Cooperative Date of Incorporation: August 4, 1938


On August 4, 1938, Kiwash Rural Power Company was formed setting a goal of offering electrical power to rural citizens in western Oklahoma. The only means of accomplishing this goal was to build distribution lines to every con- sumer who was interested in purchasing electricity. As anticipated, Kiwash’s popularity grew rapidly, as did the demand for their services. Building power lines was an overwhelming job that required people working together for the good of all. In April of 1939, Kiwash Rural Power Company became Kiwash Electric Cooperative, Inc., (KEC) a private, non-profi t 501(c)(12) corporation. After a few years, KEC chose Western Farmers Electric Cooperative as their power supplier. KEC’s board and management, like those 75 years before them, realize success is measured, not in miles of line or kilowatt-hours sold, but in member satisfaction with their cooperative and the service it provides. Today, KEC serves over 6,300 consumers and has more than 2,900 miles of line. Its service territory stretches over a six-county region, which includes Washita, Kiowa, Custer, Dewey, Roger Mills and Blaine Counties.


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