Seventy-five years ago farmers and other rural dwellers in Texas would have been quite literally living in the dark once the sun dipped beneath the horizon, according to Texas Electric Cooperatives.
Their urban counterparts, however, had been cooking and doing schoolwork by the bright evening light since the 1930s, thanks to electricity that surged through big cities such as Dallas, Austin, Houston and San Antonio, among others.
Coal-oil lamps allowed life to go on in the unwired rural regions that large, private power companies would serve. Bringing electricity in wasn’t profitable, after all.
Today in the U.S., more than 900 electric co-ops serve more than 40 million people in 47 states
In 1935, the Rural Electrification Administration was established to support farmers and ranchers in their endeavour to turn the lights on in rural regions. It allowed them to borrow federal funds, which they used to create local, consumer-owned electric cooperatives.
Bartlett Electric Cooperative was the first in America to brighten the dark nights for its members in 1935. Five years later, more than 567 cooperatives were providing electricity to 1.5 million customers. The number has continued to grow: today more than 900 electric co-ops serve 40 million people in 47 states. ◊