Power to Grow On
In the mid 1930s, only one out of 10 rural homes had electric service. For many years, power companies ignored the rural areas, except where conditions existed to ensure early profits. In July of 1935, a group of utility company executives wrote a report in which they claimed that, in light of their earlier extensive research work, "there are very few farms requiring electricity for major farm operations that are not now served." This lack of electricity made life on the farm very difficult and also limited growth in rural areas, since industries and businesses required electricity.
On May 11, 1935, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order No. 7037, establishing the Rural Electrification Administration (REA). It was not until a year later that the Rural Electrification Act was passed, and the lending program that became the REA got underway. Over the next few years, rural electric cooperatives sprang up across the country.
Farmers Electric Cooperative actually began as two cooperatives. In August 1936, a group met in the schoolhouse at Heath, in Rockwall County, to discuss creating an REA project that would be called Rockwall County Electric Company. In September 1936, another group met in Rains County and voted to create Tri-County Electric Company. Because the two projects were so close together, the REA suggested a merger; on September 11, 1937, Farmers Electric Cooperative was born.
Setting up a cooperative wasn't easy. The organizers were ordinary citizens who held meetings in schools, churches, and other gathering places to convince people to join the cooperative. The organizers worked for free, they went house to house, and the results were not always positive. In 1935 the membership fee of $5 was a lot of money, and people were skeptical.
After several months of meetings, Farmers had enough members to get approval from the REA. The first lines were energized on September 14, 1938. On that day, 101 new Farmers members now had electricity for the first time.
Farmers has come a long way over the years. We now serve more than 50,000 homes and businesses in the fast-growing region spanning Dallas, Collin, Rockwall, Hunt, Kaufman, Rains, Hopkins, Delta, Franklin, Fannin, Van Zandt, and Wood counties in Texas.
We still strive to be recognized as an exceptional cooperative by our members, employees, and communities. With careful management of resources, dedicated employees and strategic planning, we've managed to keep our electricity prices low and our reliability high for nearly 80 years.