Pennyrile Rural Electric Cooperative celebrated its 75th anniversary last week by hosting a Customer Appreciation Day complete with free give-a-ways, food, and friendly employees to meet and greet you. The event was held in the four districts Pennyrile serves and hundreds came out to partake in the festivities.
“We appreciate the customers we serve. If it were not for them we would not be able to accomplish our mission,” said Brent Gilkey, Pennyrile’s Manager or Member Services. The vision of Pennyrile Rural Electric Cooperative is to provide reliable/competitively priced electric service, improve the quality of life for its members and employees and be the provider of choice and achieving its number one concern, member satisfaction.
“This was a week where we could show our members that we appreciate them,” said Gilkey.
Penny Cooperative was formed in 1937 to bring central station electricity to the rural homes of the Pennyrile area. The first organizational meeting was held in Elkton, Kentucky on March 18, 1937, under the leadership of Mr. Stewart Brabant, who was the County Agent for Todd County. The Cooperative came officially into being on Sept. 23, 1937, when a Board of Directors was elected. This original Board consisted of: John L. Thurmond, Gracey, Ky.; W. E. Lacy of Hopkinsville, Ky.; G. W. Latham of Trenton, Ky.; Thomas J. Lyne of Olmstead, Ky.; and John Stovall of Adairville, Ky.. Mr. W. E. Lacy was elected to be President, a post that he held until January of 1972.
On December 20, 1937, the infant cooperative was granted a loan in the amount of $197,785, by the Rural Electrification Administration (REA), to construct approximately 285 miles of line to serve approximately 600 members. The Cooperative was dedicated on the night of Sept. 2, 1938. More than 600 members gathered at the Andy Haile farm near Herndon, Ky., to witness the dedication ceremony and the throwing of a switch that would energize 93 miles of line to 175 homes in the southern part of Christian County. The speaking program started just at dusk and the group listened in darkness to speeches by James E. Broaddus, a consulting engineer; J. E. VanHoose, engineer of the REA in Washington; J. T. Warren, project supervisor; J. L. Thurmond, and Judge Oglesby Soyars. A cheer went up as the switch brought on the lights while Ben Kilgore, executive secretary of the Kentucky Farm Bureau, was speaking. By the end of that year the cooperative was serving 600 members, on 285 miles of lines and during the month of December purchased 19,713 kilowatt hours, for an average of 32.9 kWh per member.
In 1940 the office was moved from Elkton to the Elks Building, on the corner of 9th and Bethel Street, in Hopkinsville, to provide a more central location. It was later moved to the Bostick Building on West 9th Street, where it remained until 1957, when the office facilities were built at the Cooperative’s present location on Harrison Street.
The bringing of central station electricity to the rural sections of the Pennyrile improved the quality of life on the farm more than any other event in history. Over the years the Cooperative has grown until it now serves over 43 thousand members in nine counties. It has branch offices in Cadiz, Elkton, and Russellville, and is staffed by 123 employees.
From 1937 to 1942, electric power was purchased from the Kentucky Tennessee Light and Power Company and was generated at the Bowling Green steam plant. The Cooperative has purchased its electrical power from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) since 1942.