Just How Old Are Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives?

Your Missouri Electric Cooperatives have a long and proud history. Just how old are Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives? Many of them date back to President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and to the establishment of the Rural Electrification Act (REA). At least five of our own Cooperatives were among the first 100 Cooperatives formed in America after the REA began.

The Rural Electrification Act (REA)

Congress authorized the REA in 1936 as part of the New Deal to help bring electricity to rural areas for the first time in U.S. history. Back then, 90 percent of urban families and businesses had access to electric power, but only about 10 percent of rural families and businesses did. The REA helped close that gap by offering loans to rural Electric Cooperatives to help them extend electric infrastructure to farms.

Missouri farmers quickly took advantage of the REA. Together, they pooled their resources ($5 each, which was a huge amount of money during the Great Depression) and applied for REA loans. Those Cooperatives ran the first power lines in rural Missouri, and they are the same Cooperatives that still serve you today.

Missouri’s First Electric Cooperatives

There are more than forty Cooperatives in Missouri now, and several were established in 1936 — the same year the REA began offering loans. Callaway Electric Cooperative, which serves Callaway and southern Montgomery Counties, was one of Missouri’s first Cooperatives.

“The Cooperative,” says its website, “began at a time when nearby privately owned utilities would not serve rural areas, and it continues to grow and serve those areas with great pride today (source).”

Callaway wasn’t the only Cooperative formed as soon as REA funds were made available to rural communities. Boone Electric Cooperative, Howard Electric Cooperative, Intercounty Electric Cooperative, Missouri Rural Electric Cooperative, and Ralls County Electric Cooperative were all established in 1936.

By the end of that same year, “nearly 100 electric cooperatives in 26 states had been formed (source),” says Tri-County Electric Cooperative. Only 26 states established Cooperatives in that first year, and not only was Missouri one of them — we established five of the nearly 100 different Cooperatives that existed in that very first year across the entire United States.

Your Missouri Electric Cooperatives Today

When Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives were first established, Member-Owners did much of the physical labor involved with running lines and powering communities and farms.

“In the early years of the Cooperative,” says Ralls County Electric Cooperative, “members were actively involved in bringing electricity to the countryside. Today, professional crews clear the right-of-ways, build electric lines, and maintain a highly efficient electrical system (source).”

Today, Missouri’s 47 Cooperatives manage the business and the labor of electric power, allowing you — our Member-Owners — to enjoy reliable electricity at an affordable price. Together, your 47 Cooperatives power more than 700,000 homes, businesses, and institutions in our state.

Learn More About Your Cooperative

Most of your Missouri Electric Cooperatives have an “About Us” or a “History” page that tells the story of its history and its growth. Many even include the names of the individuals who founded it. To learn more about your Cooperative’s history, you find it’s website listed on the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives’ “Our Co-Ops” page.

Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives are non-profit power suppliers owned by their members. Each Cooperative is governed by a board of directors that is elected from its membership. Learn more about Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives, and how we work to provide safe, efficient energy to rural Missouri by following us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.


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