In the beginning, there was light! Many of the nation’s 1,000 electric cooperatives were organized in 1935 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) as a federal agency, established to “initiate, formulate, administer and supervise a program of approved projects with respect to generation, transmission and distribution of electric energy in rural areas.”

Prior to 1935 and the birth of the REA, less than 11% of farms in America received central station electricity. During this time period, it was rare for Investor Owned Utilities (IOU) or municipal utilities to provide electricity to sparsely populated, rural areas. The cost of extending their power lines was considered by them to be too great to justify the investment. It was up to the farmers and rural leaders to work together to make power available to all rural people. This became possible through the creation of electric cooperatives.