President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 7037 on May 11, 1935, establishing the Rural Electrification Administration. This provided federal loans for the installation of electrical distribution systems to serve rural areas of the United States.
Thirty-eight electric cooperative pioneers in eastern Iowa met on Sept. 17, 1935 at Swains Hall in McCausland to form Eastern Iowa Light and Power Cooperative. These rural eastern Iowa residents sought to improve their lives by establishing an organization to help them bring electricity to their homes, farms and businesses.
Similar meetings were held that fall in Cedar, Clinton and Muscatine counties. These groups consolidated their efforts in order to improve the chances of having their initial loan approved. The REA was more eager to approve loans for projects that would serve the most people. The first REA loan was accepted by the Cooperative on Aug. 8, 1936. The $330,000 was used to build 300 miles of transmission and distribution power lines in Scott and Muscatine counties.
The original Eastern Iowa REC members were asked to pay a $10 membership fee, which was a considerable sum in the mid-1930’s. The membership fee has remained unchanged to this day.
In the coming years, the Cooperative added members in Louisa, Johnson and Des Moines counties. Later the Eastern Iowa REC service territory would grow to its current size encompassing all of Clinton, Cedar, Scott, Muscatine and Louisa counties; as well as portions of Jackson, Jones, Linn, Johnson, Washington, Henry and Des Moines counties.
The Cooperative’s original office was located at 1304 West Fourth St., Davenport, but was moved to Wilton in 1949 which was deemed to be a more central location within the service territory. Service centers were opened in Wapello (March, 1947), DeWitt (June, 1947) and Lone Tree (November, 1949) to better serve this membership. With line personnel working from each service center and the headquarters office in Wilton, crews are able to reach any part of the service area within one hour.
From its start, the Cooperative purchased power through contracts with other utilities for distribution to Eastern Iowa REC members. This dependency for power led the Cooperative’s board of directors to explore more economical means of obtaining the power needed to meet the needs of the membership.
Upon the completion of an engineering study, the board approved an REA loan application on Aug. 10, 1955 for $10, 490,000 for the construction of a coal-fired power plant to be built along the Mississippi River near Montpelier, IA. The facility went on line in February, 1960 and was later renamed Fair Station in honor of long-time Cooperative general manager F.E. Fair.
The Cooperative owned and operated Fair Station until 1982 when the transmission and generation facilities owned by Eastern Iowa REC were transferred to Central Iowa Power Cooperative. The organization became a member of CIPCO. The Cooperative continues to purchase power at the wholesale level from CIPCO today.
From those initial 38 rural residents who gathered in 1935 to form what would become Eastern Iowa Light and Power Cooperative, the organization has grown into one of the largest electric cooperatives in Iowa. Today, the Cooperative provides power to nearly 19,000 homes, farms and businesses, but its mission remains the same: to provide a reliable, affordable, safe and environmentally responsible source of power to the rural areas of eastern Iowa.
Or Click Here for More Options »