People’s Electric Cooperative

People’s Electric Cooperative (PEC) has been distributing reliable energy to members for more than 75 years. To maintain and improve its high level of service, the cooperative has begun strengthening its system with the latest technology. “Because we own our own transmission, which, as a distribution cooperative, is unusual in the state of Oklahoma, we are working to make our system more efficient and robust,” Senior Vice President of Operations and Engineering John Hudson says.

The Ada, Okla.-based cooperative was established in 1936 to provide farmers and ranchers with electrical service. PEC began as the Interstate Cooperative Electric and Power Co. after Congress passed the Rural Electrification Amendment to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. 

To get the company off the ground, 10 men sold $5 shares of stock door-to-door to rural dwellers who wanted electricity in their homes. Interstate Cooperative Electric and Power began with 2,000 paid stockholders and a $135,000 loan to build 125 miles of power lines that would serve about 470 customers in Coal, Hughes and Pontotoc counties. 

Because of new provisions to the Rural Electric Cooperative Act, Interstate Electric and Power was converted to PEC in 1939. It became a nonprofit membership corporation and all $5 shares of stock were transferred into $5 memberships, which is the same cost of membership today. 

“We paid off all of our federal debt in 1987, became independent and went on the market like any other company,” Hudson notes. Today, PEC is a rural electric transmission and distribution cooperative providing electrical service to about 15,000 members in 11 south-central Oklahoma counties. Its service area extends 43 miles east, 36 miles west and north, and 37 miles south of Ada, and the utility operates about 4,500 miles of distribution and transmission lines. PEC distributes electricity to more than 21,000 locations. 

Member Perks

The ultimate perk of becoming a PEC member is to receive electricity in rural, undeveloped areas; but another benefit is sharing in the cooperative’s profits. To date, PEC has returned more than $18 million in capital credits to its members and the amount given to each member is determined based on their usage and how much they contributed to the cooperative. 

“At the end of every year, our board of trustees takes a look at the cooperative’s financials and determines what level of distribution they will pay back to the membership,” Hudson explains.

“We have been paying capital credits since 1986 back to our members.”

PEC offers a variety of services to its members that promote efficiency and cost-savings, including prepaid metering options, automatic outage notification through its Power Watch system, surge suppression, heat pump loans and rebate programs for installing energy-efficient equipment in the home. The cooperative offers discounts for installing highly-efficient equipment such as heat pumps that pull from the ground or outside air temperature to heat and cool a home, and it provides financing for members to purchase and install the equipment.

Power Watch provides members with peace-of-mind. The system reports the latest outage information on a member’s specific location and notifies them when power has been restored. Power Watch notifies PEC of an outage if no one is home, which the cooperative says makes it ideal for lake homes and other locations that are not regularly occupied. “It’s maximum peace-of-mind for just pennies a day,” the company says. 

System Strength

Since it was established, PEC has looked to implement the latest technology to ensure reliable transmission and distribution of energy. For example, PEC was one of the first to install a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system in 1987 that transmits coded signals over communication channels to monitor and control equipment remotely. 

“The initial idea was to put innovative technology into our system that would let us know at least as much as our members knew about being without power,” Hudson says. “We expanded that technology to our substations and distribution system so we know more and more.” 

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