Eighty-one years ago, businesses, farms and homes in many rural areas were without electricity. There were no electric lights, refrigeration, power tools or radio. These parts of the country were sparsely populated and homes were separated by miles. It did not benefit profit-seeking utility companies to serve these areas, so many people across the nation were left in the dark.
However, Rural America began to light up when the Rural Electrification Administration was formed in 1935 within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Low- interest loans were made available to non-profit 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) to bring electricity to the area. Within a year, Shelby RECC was bringing power to 108 consumers. First, there was light. Then, new conveniences like refrigerators, stoves, fans and radios became a possibility for these members, making life a bit easier.
In 1997, the cooperative's membership approved changing its name to Shelby Energy Cooperative, Inc. to reflect the cooperative's involvement with electricity and gas. Shelby Energy now serves schools, farms, homes, and businesses in one of the fastest growing areas of the state. Its member base exceeds 16,000 with annual sales of over $43 million (2017) and owns more than $75 million in physical plant and facility assets.
Cooperatives like Shelby Energy, are unique businesses. They are organized to provide a needed product or service based on non-profit principles. There are no stockholders in an electric cooperative, only members. After all expenses have been paid, any profit is returned to the members of the cooperative in the form of capital credits. Everyone who purchases electricity from Shelby Energy Cooperative is part-owner.
Shelby Energy is controlled by a six-member Board of Directors elected from its membership and the Board of Directors selects the President and CEO who hires and manages a staff to take care of day-to-day operations. Each member has a vote in the operation of the business and may attend the cooperative's annual meeting held each year in June.