In 2012, ECI REC celebrated the 75th anniversary of parent cooperative Benton County Electric Cooperative Association. In 2013, the Cooperative will continue its celebration of 75 years of success by honoring its other parent cooperative, Buchanan County Rural Electric Cooperative (REC). You can find a photo album of pictures from Buchanan County REC on our Facebook page.
East Central Iowa Rural Electric Cooperative as we know it today became a reality in 1995, born from these two independent county electric cooperatives. Today, ECI REC serves over 6,700 member-consumers with over 2,250 miles of electric lines in 11 counties. This present prosperity would never have been possible without the vision and commitment of the Cooperative’s earliest leaders: those who founded ECI’s two parent cooperatives and were determined to bring electricity to rural Iowa.
In 1938, D. E. Western, a Buchanan County agricultural agent, was on a mission. He had seen the benefits of rural electric cooperatives, and was trying to convince farmers in Buchanan County to start one of their own. This was not easy: some farms had generators, but less than 5% of farms in Buchanan County received power from a central electricity distributor. Many farmers did not believe they could operate their own electric system. Another problem was that 62% of the farms were operated by tenants—it was the landlords who had to be convinced of the importance of wiring for electricity.
Western was relentless, though. He held many meetings around the county for interested groups. With a number of Farm Bureau leaders, he toured seven other rural electrification projects in Iowa. His hard work paid off later in the year, when on August 16, 1938, Buchanan County REC was incorporated.
Read the complete history of ECI REC.