“Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, Inc., is a member-owned business that delivers competitively priced electric power and works to improve our members’ quality of life.”
NOEC Celebrating More than 80 Proud Years of Service in NE Oklahoma
From humble beginnings, where each mile of line built meant that freedom from the bondage of the past was that much closer to reality, to a powerful network of over 5,000 miles of line, Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative has come a long way over those eight decades.
Our arrival was no accident. Few today fully appreciate the challenges overcome by previous generations to energize America’s heartland.
It took the foresight and determination of men like rural Adair resident Howard Freeman to see the potential for northeast Oklahoma and make a push for progress. Before him, the leadership of our nation was moved to correct the inequality that existed theretofore.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt set the stage for passage of the Rural Electrification Act on May 11, 1935, when he issued an executive order that created the Rural Electrification Administration (REA). The REA was part of a relief package designed to stimulate an economy still in the grip of the Great Depression. On May 20, 1936, Congress passed the Rural Electrification Act, making the REA’s promise of long-term funding for rural electricity a reality.
The act addressed a serious need. When the REA was created, only 10 percent of rural Americans had electricity. This lack of power prevented farmers from modernizing their facilities.
Privately-owned utility companies, which provided power to most of the country, were not eager to serve the rural population. These companies argued that supplying rural areas with electricity was not profitable. The lack of attention from private companies led farmers to form non-profit cooperatives to implement electrification even before the REA. But, without the government’s assistance, these organizations lacked the technical and financial expertise they needed to succeed..
Senator George W. Norris of Nebraska, co-sponsor of the Rural Electrification Act of 1935, himself bore witness to the disparity between those with electricity and those without.
“I have seen the grim drudgery and grind that has been the common lot of eight generations of American farm women,” said Norris. “I have seen the tallow candle in my own home, followed by the coal-oil lamp. I know what it is to take care of the farm chores by the flickering, undependable light of the lantern in the mud and cold rains of the fall and the snow and icy winds of winter.
“I have seen the cities gradually acquire a night as light as day.
“I can close my eyes and recall the innumerable scenes of harvest and the unending punishing tasks performed by hundreds of thousands of women, growing old prematurely, dying before their time, conscious of the great gap between their lives and the lives of those whom the accident of birth or choice placed in towns and cities.
“Why shouldn’t I be interested in the emancipation of hundreds of thousands of farm women?”
The lack of opportunity for rural people was obvious when compared to the abundant privilege afforded those whose homes were in areas more densely populated.
Municipalities were in the best position to balance the scales. However, they steered clear of building electric to outlying areas, feeling the idea was not economically feasible. It took cooperatives, made up of men and women working in unison to achieve a common purpose, to bring electricity to the countryside.
There were 14 such individuals who came together on behalf of Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative. With the sum of $5,000 in hand, they applied for incorporation back on September 19, 1938. You may have known, or perhaps even be related to, one of our original founders.
Along with Mr. Freeman, there was Leo Spalding of Vinita, H. E. Burns of Mazie, Luther Marlin of Salina, Dora Whitsel of Pryor, Fred Adair of Pryor, Van Chandler of Cleora, D. L. Stone of Miami, Claude Farley of Fairland, James Hall of Fairland, Roger Frost of Vinita, R. H. Lightfoot of Vinita, Guy Jennison of Miami, and J. V. Roberts of Vinita.
More than eighty years later, we salute these individuals for bringing us into the light and helping establish the foundation for what we have today—a strong distribution electric cooperative with a proud legacy of service in northeast Oklahoma.
Our Subsidiary Business & Divisions
Northeast Rural Services, Inc., is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, Inc. It is comprised of multiple divisions including right-of-way services, IT installations and support, and triple-play (internet, VoIP, HDTV) fiber-to-the-premise services (BOLT Fiber Optic Services). To explore more of what BOLT has to offer follow the button below.