Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative (RECC) will be celebrating the 75th anniversary of its incorporation on September 6, with an Open House from 4-7 p.m. at the cooperative headquarters in Auburn. “September 6, 1936 is the day that nine local leaders took the bold step of creating a new, not-for-profit business to bring electricity to rural homes and farms,” explains David Stuva, RECC President/CEO.
Taking advantage of loan funds from the new Rural Electrification Administration, part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal program to help a struggling economy, the nine incorporators started signing up farmers to use electricity when lines could be built to them. “The membership fee was $5.00, exactly what it is today at RECC. Of course, $5.00 meant a lot more to folks back then,” Stuva said.
The co-op has grown from its first 395 member-consumers connected in 1937 to over 5,800 accounts today in five counties – Sangamon, Christian, Montgomery, Macoupin and Morgan. With electricity sales of $14 million per year, and a full-time workforce of 24 employees, RECC is still an important part of the rural community, Stuva points out.
“Back in the 1930’s the big electric companies didn’t want to extend their lines into the country where they might serve just a few customers on each mile of line,” he says. “So the cooperative was formed to work for the good of its members, not far-off investors who didn’t care about the customers. We still serve an average of just four accounts on each mile of line, so we have to work hard to provide reliable power at a competitive price.”
The Sept. 6 Open House is not only an observance of RECC’s incorporation anniversary, but a chance to show members and the public the “new look” at the offices on Highway 104, just east of Auburn. Stuva says the main building was built around 1955, and much of the original appearance was still in place until some updates started last year.
“We did some paint, flooring and layout changes in our front offices, lobby and meeting room using our own employee talent, and then had the exterior façade updated by Weldon Ladage Construction this spring,” Stuva says. “With a bold new sign and relocated entry, we have a facility that our members can be proud of as we continue to serve their needs for the next 75 years!”
All RECC members, as well as the public, are invited to the Open House to see the facilities and both old and new examples of the co-op’s equipment. Hotdogs, popcorn and drinks will be served from 4:00 to 7:00, with free gifts for those attending.