As late as the mid-1930's, nine out of ten rural homes were without electric service. The farmer milked his cows by the dim light of a kerosene lantern. His wife worked tirelessly keeping wood in the stove and used washboards and buckets to clean clothes. The unavailability of electricity kept factories and businesses from locating in the rural areas. For many years power companies ignored rural areas around the nation.
The first official action of the federal government leading the way to present rural electrification program came with the passage of the Tennessee Valley Authority Act, also known as the (TVA) Act, in May 1933. This gave the TVA board the ability to build lines to serve farms and towns that otherwise were not supplied with electricity.
The idea of providing federal assistance to rural America for electrification grew rapidly when President Roosevelt took office in 1933. On May 11, 1933, Roosevelt signed Executive Order No. 7037, establishing the Rural Electrification Administration (REA). It was not until a year later that the Rural Electrification Act was passed and the lending program that became the REA got it's start.
Within four years following the close of the war, the number of rural electrical systems in operation doubled, the number of customers tripled, and the miles of line grew more than five- fold. By 1953, more than 90 percent of American farms had electricity thanks to the REA programs.
Today, nearly 100% of the nations farms have electrical service. Most of the rural farms have received electric because of the product of your locally owned rural Cooperative. The Cooperatives got their start by borrowing funds from the REA to build lines and provide service as a not for profit basis. Today, REA is known as Rural Utilities Service (RUS). RUS is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Pemiscot-Dunklin Electric Cooperative was started from the REA program, organized in September of 1937. The Cooperative was very much needed and well received in the area. The Cooperative experienced rapid growth and quickly became the largest Electrical Cooperative in the state of Missouri. By July 1950, about 90% of the Pemiscot-Dunklin area was electrified. The Cooperative had 14 trucks equipped with 2-way radios to improve service to their members. In the late 1950's the number of members began to decline as members left the rural areas and started migrating to the cities for employment. This gave the Cooperative new challenges to face as memberships declined by as much as one third over the next several years. Despite this decline the Cooperative's mission has always stayed the same: to provide reliable service to the members. As time goes by, things change but Pemiscot-Dunklin Electric Cooperative still takes tremendous pride in providing our members with reliable service and our involvement and promotion of rural Missouri.