To anyone walking by the windows of the Stovall Building that day, the meeting of a small group of rural leaders from Graves County would have looked routine. Those passing by would likely have assumed those men and women had gathered to discuss the latest grain prices, family happenings or upcoming community events.
But it was April 7, 1938 and less than 3 percent of the farms in Kentucky had electricity. And the meeting that day was not about politics or the best planting dates for spring gardens. Instead, the visionary leaders had gathered because they were deeply committed to the process of shining a bright light on a more prosperous future for their communities. That day the West Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation was organized and the leaders achieved their purpose: to bring their farms, friends and neighbors out of the darkness and accomplish together what none could do alone.
After more than a year of hard work and determination, the first lines of the West Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative’s service area were energized on July 18, 1939. The original customers, served by a substation in Farmington, used approximately 40 kilowatt hours per month and paid an average monthly bill of $2.77 at a rate of about six cents per kilowatt hour.
A mere 25 years later, in 1963, the Cooperative’s assets had grown to $6.7 million. They serviced 15,527 members on 2,035 miles of line. Those members used an average of 822 kilowatt hours and paid at a rate of about one cent per kilowatt hour.
Because of the support of the Rural Electric Administration and the availability of low cost power from the Tennessee Valley Authority, at the turn of the century in 1999, the Cooperative was able to sell its members a total of 807,226,709 kilowatt hours of electricity in the year.
In an event that drew minds back to the original substation dedication 70 years earlier, West Kentucky Rural Electric brought a new substation online in September 2009. Aptly named the John Edd Walker Memorial Substation after the former Cooperative leader, the new facility serves 3,579 West Kentucky RECC members and represents a $1.6 million investment by the Cooperative.
Today, the Cooperative delivers electricity to more than 38,000 homes, farms and businesses in our area through a network of more than 4,000 miles of power lines. Despite the increase in size, we continue to operate under the same principles that the founding leaders set forth for us: provide power to our members at the lowest possible cost and using the best possible service and sound business policies.