Celebrating 75 Years
Welcome to Linn County REC’s 75th Anniversary!
It all began when the J.W.B. Harris family, located three miles east of Toddville became the first farm house in Linn County to be lighted by REC electricity.
Incorporated in 1938, Linn County Rural Electrical Cooperative is a not-for-profit, member-owned electric cooperative that provides energy services to residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural members in parts of 6 Iowa counties. On its 75th anniversary, the cooperative serves more than 26,000 accounts through more than 2,124 miles of distribution line and 38 substations. It is the largest of Iowa’s 35 electric cooperatives and is the 215th largest of the nation’s nearly 1,000 rural electric cooperatives.
2013 marks the co-op’s 75th anniversary. We are proud to share this historic milestone with our members and the communities we serve. You are the reason we’re here today. We look forward to serving you for many years to come.
Learn more about our history below:
Back in the 1930’s, the prospect of getting rural electrification to Iowa farmsteads seemed very remote. Financed with funds borrowed from the Rural Electrification Administration (REA), Iowa’s rural electric cooperative systems accomplished an incredible task by doing what some electric company executives claimed could never be done.
In 1935, the year the Federal Government initiated the REA program of long term low interest loans for rural electrification, only a fraction of Iowa farm families were enjoying central station electric service.
On paper, it seemed that organizing rural electric cooperatives would be a simple matter. In fact, it proved to be an undertaking filled with many frustrations and setbacks.
A group of seven men formed an ad hoc committee to research rural electrification in Linn County. This group included: Chairman, Glenn Stoner, a Mount Vernon farmer; Secretary, Owen Bremer of Central City and other committee members: H.A.W. Koch of Central City, Lumir Biderman of Cedar Rapids, Fred Fishel of Marion, Harley Ives of Marion and Charles Wickham of Mount Vernon.
The first application was submitted for two lines that equaled 163 miles. One north of the Cedar river and one south of the Cedar river. The application was rejected on the basis that it could only be one line. (went into Johnson county at that time.)
After two failed attempts to get a loan from the REA, Linn County Rural Electric Cooperative was finally granted a loan and incorporated on July 8, 1938. The struggle to bring electricity to rural people was astoundingly long and complicated. Solicitations for memberships started in the spring of 1938. Not all farmers were as sold on rural electrification as the initial group of men. However, local promoters got busy and secured the signatures of 570 applicants and their $5 membership fees to make them bona fide members of the association.
A long-term low interest loan of $228,000 was received September 22, 1938. Shortly thereafter, Linn County REC secured an office in the First National Bank building in downtown Marion.
Linn County REC purchased power from Iowa Electric Light and Power Company and charged a minimum of $3.50 per month for each farm, equaling 40 kilowatt hours. Electric lines were brought to the farm home free of expense, but individuals paid for all further installation.
After ten months of hard work, the first rural electric home was ready to make history. On July 18, 1939 at 2:35 p.m., the J.W.B. Harris family, located three miles east of Toddville became the first farm house in Linn County to be lighted by REC electricity.
Here are some other notable events in our history:
- Linn County REC’s first office opens in the First National Bank Building, located at 750 11th Street, Marion and has eight employees.
- Linn County REC’s second office opens at 1138 7th Ave in Marion and has 13 employees.
- Linn County REC has 83 new applicants that want power.
- Construction begins on a new Linn County REC office at the intersection of 35th street and highway 151.
- Jack Hicks is hired as General Manager.
- R.D. Palmer, the first REC manager, retires after serving as manager since 1938.
- The average kilowatt-hours per member per month is 380.
- Linn County REC has 3,310 members and 1,091 miles of line.
- Linn County REC has 4,081 members.
- The first underground service is installed at an apartment complex in Toddville.
- Revenue exceeds 1 million dollars and membership is up to 5,002 members.
- The first REA loan dated October 1938 is paid in full for the amount of $228,000.
- Electric service territories are established in Iowa.
- Emphasis on energy conservation to curtail energy demand.
- Membership grows to 7,705.
- Senate File 1258 is finalized. This establishes the electric utility’s service areas and regulates REC rates by the Iowa Commerce Commission.
- A computer aided drafting (auto cad) mapping system is implemented.
- General Manager Jack Hicks retires after serving for 32 years.
- Kim Colberg takes over as General Manager.
- A system maintenance program is implemented to reduce outage hours. This program includes tree trimming, pole replacement and upgrades throughout the service territory.
- The Louie The Lightning Bug safety and education program begins.
- The state passes energy efficiency legislation. Iowa’s electric cooperatives are a part of this legislation.
- Linn County REC has 11,521 members.
- First energy efficiency filing with the Iowa Utility Board takes place.
- In order to reduce response time in the southern portion of Linn County REC’s service territory, construction begins on the operations center in North Liberty.
- The System Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system is purchased to access load information on a real time basis.
- State of Iowa actively discusses competition in the electric industry. A bill is proposed and defeated.
- Linn County REC’s website goes live.
- Linn County REC is no longer required to file energy efficiency plan with the IUB, but continues to give incentives for energy efficient equipment.
- Linn County REC moves into its new building location at 5695 REC drive in Marion.
- Linn County REC has $41.3 million in assets
- Linn County REC experiences no outages or problems associated with Y2K.
- Linn County REC pays members over $107, 000 in energy efficiency incentives during this year.
- Linn County REC provides service to 15,652 accounts.
- Linn County REC has $45 million in assets.
- Electrical safety program is presented to 2872 students in one year throughout Linn County REC’s service territory.
- Linn County REC ranks #1 among electric cooperatives in the state for consumer growth.
- Linn County REC returns over $4 million in capital credits to its members since its incorporatation in 1938.
- Linn County REC provides service to over 18,000 accounts.
- Linn County REC launches its renewable energy program, Emerging Energy.
- Bill payment services expand to include payment over the phone, internet and e-bill.
- Electrical safety program is presented to over 4,000 students.
- Linn County REC ranks in the top 5% of all electric cooperatives for growth in the country and provides electricity to over 21,000 members.
- Linn County REC has 2,000 miles of line, 64% is overhead and 36% is underground.
- Installation of the geographic information system (GIS) begins.
- Linn County REC sets record with $437,000 paid to members in energy efficiency incentives.
- Linn County REC provides service to over 22,000 accounts.
- Implements new iVUE custom database in September.
- Linn County REC returns over $6 million in capital credits to its membership since its incorporation.
- At the height of February's ice storm, Linn County REC has approximately 13,500 members without power throughout our service territory.
- We have 24 substations down, 170 broken poles and 45 miles of line down.
- The majority of our members have power restored within 48 hours.
- Linn County REC's outage map goes live on the cooperative's website
- Marks the cooperative's 75th anniversary
- Linn County REC provides service to over 26,076 accounts