Cooperatives - the Early Years
In the early thirties, cooperatives were founded for one purpose: to improve life for their members. Nearly eighty years later, that purpose remains the same. America’s electric cooperatives played a crucial role in revolutionizing the way rural Americans live, work and play.
A century ago, as the first homes and businesses began using electricity, it became clear that access to affordable, reliable power would vastly improve people’s lives. It began with such innovations as electric lights, motors and refrigeration, and soon lit a short fuse to revolutions in transportation, manufacturing, communications, health care, computing and many, many other areas. “R.E.C.C. has played its role in the social transformation of America’s rural scene. This cooperative has provided hundreds of benefits, both social and economic, to the people in this area.” (The Anderson News, December 12, 1963).
By the late 1930’s, nine out of 10 rural homes in Kentucky were still in the dark. Faced with the prospect of spending lots of money to build facilities to serve relatively few customers, most utilities didn’t want to extend their power lines beyond cities, towns and major roadways.
But farmers and rural residents saw how electricity improved the lives of their city brethren. They were willing to put up their own money to gain access to it. They took advantage of Roosevelt’s New Deal government programs to start member-owned electric cooperatives and build power lines to their homes and farms.
In 1937, Blue Grass Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation received its first loan from the Rural Electrification Administration in the amount of $120,000. The first lights of the cooperative were illuminated on June 15, 1938. In 1958, a new headquarters was built on Lexington Road in Nicholasville. In 1964, a Madison district office was opened at 2099 Berea Road—a current district office. Fox Creek R.E.C.C. was first organized in 1938. The first office was located on Main Street in Lawrenceburg. Construction of a new headquarters building began in 1962 at 1200 Versailles Road in Lawrenceburg—a current district office. Harrison R.E.C.C. was also organized in 1938 with their first lines energized in 1939. The first office was located in downtown Cynthiana. A headquarters building was built in 1942 on Oddville Avenue. In 2006, a new district office was constructed on Sea Biscuit Way. In 1998, Blue Grass R.E.C.C. joined with Fox Creek R.E.C.C. in Lawrenceburg to form Blue Grass Energy. In 2002, Blue Grass Energy combined workforces with Harrison R.E.C.C.
Blue Grass Energy serves more than 55,000 members in 23 central and north-central Kentucky counties stretching from Berea to the Ohio River. Our job is still the same today as it was in 1937—to provide affordable, reliable electricity to our members.
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