History of Boone Electric
Boone Electric Cooperative was incorporated on June 11, 1936 - the first rural electric cooperative to form in the state of Missouri. By the end of 1937, Boone Electric served just more than 140 members in rural Boone County. Today the cooperative has more than 30,000 connected services in Boone County and portions of Randolph, Audrain, Monroe, Howard and Callaway counties.
It was more than 60 years ago that a group of farmers got together to form Boone Electric Cooperative. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal had just made it possible to borrow money from the federal government to build electric lines to the rural areas.
Private power companies were not interested in serving farmers, so with the help of the University Extension Service, farmers joined together in small areas across the country to provide themselves with electricity - a service that would dramatically change and improve farm life and production.
In Boone County, Wilbur Watson and his wife, May, wrote to Washington, D.C., to see about "getting the REA." Soon a representative came from Washington to meet with area farmers. Boone County Electric Cooperative was incorporated on June 11, 1936.
Neighbors began collecting the required $5 membership fee - a lot of money during the 1934-36 drought. Three members per mile were required in an area before plans could be made to build a power line.
Electric power was purchased from the Columbia Water and Light Department, and line construction soon began throughout the county. A few residents of Harrisburg still remember being promised electricity for Christmas and, despite the distance of the line and bad weather delays, they had twinkling lights on Christmas Eve 1937.
A quiet revolution had begun as farm homes got lights, refrigerators, irons and other conveniences previously enjoyed only by those living in the city.
Line construction virtually halted during World War II. But as the war ended, supplies became available and power lines were once again being built. By the mid-1950s, most farms in Boone County had electricity and the lines had been extended north into Randolph County.
By 1950, Boone Electric and several other mid-Missouri cooperatives joined together to build a power plant and generate and transmit their own electricity. The '50s and '60s were years of growth and system improvement for all of the cooperatives in the state, and by the early 1960s power requirements had again exceeded capacity.
In 1962, cooperatives in the state formed Associated Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI). Its role was to plan, construct and operate the primary generation and transmission facilities needed by the state's rural electric cooperatives.
What a success story it was that began with a farmer and his wife writing a letter to Washington, D.C. This story has been repeated in cooperatives across the nation and now around the world as the appeal of cooperative ownership extends to other nations.
Boone Electric Cooperative has, from its beginning, remained a good neighbor to the members and the communities it serves. Business and industry find our low rates and reliable service attractive. With its mission to improve the quality of life of its members while providing dependable electricity and other services at the lowest possible cost, Boone Electric will continue to meet the challenges of the future.