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Making a Difference for 80 Years

Report from D. Mark McClain, General Manager

Eighty years ago, something of incredible historical value happened: Midwest and Stamford Electric Cooperatives—which now form Big Country Electric Cooperative—were born. I think back and wonder about the context of their formation: Why did this happen? For what reason were these new entities, electric cooperatives, formed in rural West Texas? What was happening in the world to cause this to take place? What was the straw that broke the camel’s back, driving change? What was the problem that brought about this revolutionary establishment?

The problem was that there was no electricity here. The municipal and investor-owned utilities brought electricity to urban areas but saw the rural areas—ours included—as places of little importance and little opportunity. These entities felt that building electric lines to rural communities would not be profitable and chose not to serve them. Electricity gave rise to industrial, mechanical and, most notably, agricultural revolutions across the nation—but not in rural America.

The electric cooperative business model was the solution. Farmers, ranchers and other rural folks banded together to form a cooperative partnership: A business entity that would be owned by those they served and would bring electricity to rural West Texas.

Life was forever changed. The small communities of West Texas banded together and began to benefit from the innovations that were changing the world—all because they could have electricity. Life began to flourish as modern electricity arrived in this land, which once was believed to hold little importance and little opportunity.

This is why Big Country EC is here today. Where would you be—what would your life be like today—if those people hadn’t worked together to solve a problem 80 years ago?

Your co-op seeks not only to provide electricity but also improve the communities we serve. We invest in the young people of our communities because they are our future. We help other cooperatives when disasters hit, whether the disasters are local, across the state or even across the country. The cooperative community is large and, at the same time, small and family-like.

This past year, Big Country EC sent crews to help Jackson Electric Cooperative in South Texas after Hurricane Harvey hit. One of the residents there saw our crew at work and recognized our logo; she had grown up in Roby. Her dad used to own the service station on Highway 180 in Roby, which is now owned by Big Country EC. She took the time to write to us and shared the impact it had on her seeing our crews helping. You never know who you will impact when you help a neighbor, whether here at home or a few hundred miles away. I guess it really is a small world after all.

Eighty years from now, I hope people continue to share the same stories of how Big Country EC has made a difference and will always choose to help when given the opportunity. More and more, I hope there are stories of humanity banding together to solve problems.

We are proud to be part of your family’s history and look forward to helping you write your future, in 2018 and the years to come.