Pioneer Electric celebrates 80 years at annual meeting

Published 6:09 pm Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Pioneer Electric Cooperative is gearing up for its annual meeting, slated to kick off at 8:30 a.m. October 14 at the Butler County Fairgrounds. As always, there will be live entertainment, a chance to enjoy tethered hot air balloon rides, win great prizes and learn about facets of PEC, says Casey Rogers, communications specialist for the cooperative. And this year’s meeting is extra-special—an opportunity to celebrate PEC’s 80th anniversary in south central Alabama.

“Pioneer’s annual meeting is a great way for members to interact and engage with their cooperative,” Rogers says.

“Whether it’s participating in the election and voting process, talking to PEC employees and fellow members or winning great prizes and enjoying good local music, the annual meeting is a fun time for all ages.”

Before rural electrification, farm families and others who lived in sparsely populated rural areas had to reside on the same kerosene, firewood, candles and other old-fashioned means of providing heat and light to their homes that the generations before them used. While towns like Greenville had electricity by 1920, country folks remained largely without power until the late 1930s.

Pioneer Electric Cooperative was founded on December 27, 1937 and was originally known as the Butler County Electric Membership Corporation. Crews went to work by late 1938 setting poles, stringing wires and installing transformers along county roads in Butler, Dallas, Wilcox and Lowndes counties. The first 81 miles of lines were energized by the spring of 1939, bringing the wonders of electricity—light at the mere flick of a switch and so much more–to rural homes.

And PEC’s annual meetings fast became an important component for its rural membership.

“When the Butler County Electric Membership Corporation (later Pioneer Electric Cooperative, Inc.) was founded, folks were quick to come to the annual meetings – they either wanted to see what they needed to do to get power to their homes, or wanted to make sure that the company was going to be able to continue serving them power in the future,” explains Cleve Poole, vice-president of economic development and legal affairs for PEC.

“ In 2005, the bylaws were updated to allow for voting by mail, and the quorum reduced to three percent, and since that year, a quorum has been met by mail and in person.”

Linda Horn, a long-time Pioneer employee who serves as vice-president of marketing and member services, recalls typical annual meetings of previous years.

“In years past, the annual meeting was anticipated by members who attended to conduct the business of their co-op, learn about new appliances and services that electricity could provide, and of course to fellowship with friends and neighbors.”

Today, PEC has 2,700 miles of lines providing service to 9,581 households and 947 businesses to most of the rural areas in Butler, Dallas, Lowndes and Wilcox counties. Its service area also extends into portions of Crenshaw, Covington, Conecuh, Monroe and Autauga counties.

Gates will open for this year’s annual meeting at 8:30 a.m. on October 14 with the official meeting beginning at 10:30 a.m. Trustees from districts 3, 6 and 9 will be elected at the meeting.

“We hope lots of our members and their families will come out and join us that Saturday,” says Rogers. “Along with being part of the voting process, members will have the chance to win lots of great prizes, along with our grand prize of a year of ‘free electricity,’ valued at more than $2,000. We look forward to seeing you there!”

Pioneer Electric Cooperative describes its mission as follows: “To safely deliver reliable service, in a timely and courteous manner, at the lowest possible cost to our members. Pioneer strives to uphold this mission by securing an affordable supply of energy for its members and delivering it over a well-maintained distribution system, charging each member only their fair share of what it costs the Co-op to provide electric service to the members’ homes or businesses.”