Eighty years ago, businesses, farms and homes outside cities and towns were without electricity. There were no electric lights, refrigeration, power tools or radio.
The reason? These parts of the country were sparsely populated with miles separating some homes. It just wasn't profitable for a profit-seeking utility to serve these areas.
Rural America began to light up when the Rural Electrification Administration was formed as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Low-interest loans were made available to form nonprofit cooperatives, bringing electrification to the countryside.
In 1937, some of your friends and neighbors in Henry, Shelby and Trimble counties formed Shelby Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation (RECC) and central Kentucky began to light up. Within a year, Shelby RECC was bringing power to 108 consumers. At first it was simple -- lights! Then new conveniences like refrigerators, stoves, fans and radios made life easier and more enjoyable.
In 1997 the cooperative's membership approved a name change to Shelby Energy Cooperative, Inc., to reflect the Cooperative's involvement in electricity and gas.
Cooperatives are unique businesses. They are organized to provide a needed product or service based on the nonprofit principal. There are no stockholders in an electric cooperative. After all expenses have been paid, any remaining money is returned to the customers as capital credits.
Everyone who buys electricity from the utility is part-owner. Each customer (member) has a vote in the operation of the business and may attend the cooperative's annual meeting held in June.
Shelby Energy is controlled by a six-member board of directors elected from its membership. The board then selects a President and CEO who, in turn, hires a staff to operate the business.
The cooperative now serves industry, schools, farms, homes and businesses in one of the fastest growing areas of the state. It's customer base exceeds 15,900 with annual sales of more than $44 million (2016). Shelby Energy has more than $73 million in physical plant and facilities.
If you would like more information about cooperatives and Shelby Energy, contact our office at 1-800-292-6585 or your local library.