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Our Sources Say

Thanks to rural electric cooperatives, we enjoy a better quality of life

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Waymon Pace is general manager, customer service of the Tennessee Valley Authority in Alabama. 42  october 2012

hile attending the AREA annual meeting earlier this year, I got to thinking about where rural communities and this country would be without rural electric cooperatives. We enjoy a quality of life today that simply would not exist without the influence and development of our rural local electric cooperatives. As late as the mid-1930s, nine out of 10 rural homes were without electricity. Farmers milked by hand with only the dim light from a kerosene lantern, while other family members were slaves to a wood stove just to keep the family fed. Washing clothes and other necessary chores were done by hand. This meant that most of a family’s time was consumed with just trying to survive and generate a little income to purchase the necessities of life. The lack of electricity in rural areas kept those economies entirely dependent on agriculture. Factories and businesses could only locate in cities where electric power could be acquired. During this time the thinking was that it was not economically feasible to provide electricity in rural areas due to the higher cost to serve customers who were scattered over a large area. The Rural Electrification Administration Act was signed on May 11, 1935, and provided technical assistance and financing in rural areas. At that time only 10 percent of rural communities had electricity. After REA’s formation, by 1953 more than 90 percent of rural residents had electricity. This allowed family members to find work off the farm and provide out-

side income. The availability of electricity and a labor supply brought business and industries into rural communities. This offered opportunities to vastly improve the quality of life of rural families. Rural cooperatives are locally owned and operated, keeping your power supply and rates reliable and reasonably priced. They make investments back into your rural communities to improve your service and reliability. Many of you can remember when you only had one single light hanging from the middle of the ceiling and at most, one outlet plug in the room. Then there are others of you who can’t imagine life without TVs and computers. It all depends on your perspective. We need to realize this did not just happen. Local farmers/folks at the time formed cooperatives and borrowed money to start these rural power companies. They installed equipment and ran transmission lines to remote rural areas that others thought was not feasible or profitable. Our rural forefathers were willing to take risks to make life better for rural residents. Did they realize how good they would make it for us? Probably not. It has been so successful it could not have been imagined at the time. Local electric co-ops have enabled us to transform from a time of just trying to meet our meager necessities to now being able to fulfill most of our basket of wants. When we enjoy the finer things and the conveniences of today, we need to “THANK” our rural electric cooperatives for the major part they played in providing us with a wonderful quality of life. A www.alabamaliving.coop

Alabama Living SMEC October 2012  
Alabama Living SMEC October 2012  

Alabama Living SMEC October 2012