Ocmulgee EMC is proud to be part of the nationwide network of electric cooperatives organized under the Rural Electrification Administration. In 1930 most rural Americans had no electric power because it cost more than profit-minded, investor-owned electric companies would pay to construct power lines so far to serve so few. The improving standard of living enjoyed by city dwellers never reached beyond the city limits. And then a little known federal government program, the Rural Electrification Administration (REA), paved the way for rural Americans to build their own electric utility companies. Unlike investor-owned electric power companies interested only in profits, REA financed cooperatives were to be owned by the people they served and operated on a non-profit basis.
The organization of Ocmulgee Electric Membership Corporation was a result of a meeting held in the Dodge County Courthouse, which authorized H. H. Burch, J. W. Studstill, W. H. Mullis, Jack Jones, Eugene Wilcox, Mrs. A. J. Lowery and Mrs. E. M. Harrington to proceed with the organization of a cooperative for the purpose of bring electricity to its members, and to make an application to the REA for funds with which to construct an electric distribution system.
The organizers presented their petition to the Judge of Dodge Superior Court, Judge Eschol Graham, on March 29th, 1938, and after advertisement, a Charter was granted by the Superior Court of Dodge County, Georgia on May 9th, 1938. The first meeting of the incorporators and Directors after incorporation was held in the office of Will Ed Smith in Eastman at 2 p.m. on May 11th, 1938. At that time, by-laws were adopted and the following were elected to membership: H. H. Burch, J. W. Studstill, W. H. Mullis, Jack Jones, Eugene Wilcox, Mrs. A. J. Lowery, J. G. NeSmith, Mrs. E. M. Harrington and W. F. Daniels. They were the first Directors.
The first officers were H. H. Burch, President; J. W. Studstill, Vice-President; Mrs. A. J. Lowery, Secretary and W. H. Mullis, Treasurer. J. B. McCrary Engineering Company of Atlanta was employed as the cooperative's engineer. Lines were staked in Dodge, Bleckley and Pulaski Counties; and maps were drawn by that company.
Rights-of-way easements and applications for membership had been solicited since the time of the organization. The membership fee was $5.00, which was a lot of money in 1938. At first it was difficult to get people to sign easements. A great many people did not want electricity, some refused because they were afraid of electricity. Others felt that all this money being collected would be gobbled up in expenses of organization and solicitation of membership and right-of-way.
The original application for a loan, along with maps showing the location of the lines to be constructed, was carried to the REA in Washington in an automobile at the expense of Dodge County. The County Commissioner, W. D. McCranie, was always interested in progressive programs on behalf of the people in the county. His son, W. C. (Bill), drove the car and was accompanied by J. W. Studstill, Will Ed Smith and H. H. Burch to Washington.
At the second meeting of the incorporators and directors held on July 29th, 1938, it was announced that an allotment of a loan of $163,000.00 would be made by the REA to the cooperative for the purpose of constructing approximately 157 miles of line in Dodge, Bleckley and Pulaski Counties. The loan would be repaid in monthly installments over 25 years with an interest rate of 2.73%. Coffee Construction Company, of Eastman, Georgia, was awarded the construction contract at a cost of $81,500.00.
The months seemed to drag by, but finally poles and wire was strung across the countryside. On December 24, 1938, Ocmulgee EMC energized 12 miles of power lines connecting 24 rural homes and farms, forever changing the lives of rural families in middle Georgia.
Because of our organizers vision and the hard work of those who followed
them, Ocmulgee EMC electric energy has made it possible for rural families in
our area to enjoy a higher standard of living. Today Ocmulgee EMC has more than
6,800 members and has energized more than 1,650 miles of power lines.