November 17, 2022 - Citizens Electric Corporation celebrates 75 years of service.
Electric cooperatives began to crop up nationwide after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) into law in 1935. The REA provided low-interest loans to cooperatives to electrify Rural America.
Genevieve Electric Cooperative was formed in 1941 under the direction of the REA to extend power lines to rural southeastern Missouri. In 1945, at the end of World War II, the first 202 miles of line were energized, and Genevieve Electric started active operation as a rural electric cooperative. Later that same year, Genevieve Electric Cooperative acquired all the property of Missouri General Utilities, and investor-owned utility that was providing power to Perry, Ste. Genevieve, and Northern Cape Girardeau Counties.
With the acquisition of Missouri General Utilities, Genevieve Electric Cooperative began serving the cities of Ste. Genevieve and Perryville. Since cooperatives were prohibited by law from serving any municipality with a population exceeding 1,500, it was necessary to reorganize Genevieve Electric Cooperative.
To accomplish this reorganization, Citizens Electric Corporation (CEC) was organized and incorporated, and the charter was issued on November 17, 1947. A certificated territory was chartered by the Missouri Public Service Commission (MOPSC) which includes all of Ste. Genevieve and Perry Counties as well as portions of Northern Cape Girardeau and Eastern St. Francois Counties.
The Corporation was divided into three districts with offices and service centers located in Ste. Genevieve and Perryville and an office/service center facility in Altenburg.
In the early years, modern electrical appliances were displayed and sold in all three districts. Electricity was considered a convenience rather than a necessity, and most homes owned few electrical appliances. One of the most popular items was the radio that brought news, weather, farm reports and entertainment into their homes. This brought the outside world a little closer to home for isolated rural areas.
Unlike all other Missouri electric cooperatives, CEC was fully regulated by the MOPSC. In 2003, Citizens Electric petitioned to be removed from the MOPSC to save tens of thousands of dollars every year. CEC was successful in their efforts and continues to be governed by a board of 10 member/owners. However, the Corporation voluntarily continues to follow MOPSC standards for safety, reliability, accounting, and weather-related issues related to payment arrangements and disconnections.
For more than 60 years, CEC purchased electricity from Union Electric (now Ameren). Long-term, low-cost contracts allowed Citizens Electric to have one of the lowest electric rates in the state. In the late 1990’s, wholesale electricity became deregulated. This legislation made it possible for companies owning power plants to sell their excess generation to the marketplace. Since this can be more lucrative than long-term fixed-rate contracts with neighboring utilities, CEC had to look elsewhere for a power supplier when its contract ended with Ameren.
In June 2006, CEC became a member/owner of Wabash Valley Power Alliance (WVPA) a not-for-profit generation and transmission cooperative located in Indianapolis, Indiana. CEC began taking energy delivery from WVPA in January 2007.
While Citizens Electric may appear to be the little electric cooperative down the street, it supplies more power than any other electric cooperative in the state. Unlike other cooperatives that are typically residential and rural, more than 70 percent of Citizens Electric’s power is sold to commercial and industrial members. In 2010, CEC sold over 1.6 billion kilowatt hours. This is more than five times the US median of 285 million kWh of electric cooperatives.