Much has changed since May 18, 1938 when the Cooperative was first organized by rural residents of Coles and Moultrie counties, but the goals and interests of those early leaders are still important today. The delivery of reliable and affordable electrical energy to meet the needs of our members is still our primary objective.
Prior to May 18, 1938, attempts had been made to bring electrical energy to the sparsely populated rural areas, but were mostly unsuccessful. The existing power companies were mainly investor-owned utilities that were not interested in building the lines into the rural areas where only a few farmsteads per mile would use minimal amounts of electricity and where profits for stockholders would be hard to achieve. An individual rural resident had to either pay for the cost of installing the lines, or be fortunate to live near an existing line, in order to receive service. Under the terms of the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, rural residents and farmers could join together to form electric cooperatives and borrow funds from the Rural Electrification Administration (R.E.A.) for the purpose of constructing electrical lines and facilities.
With the leadership of farm advisors Paul Krows and W. S. Myers, and the support of the Moultrie and Coles County Farm Bureaus, Coles-Moultrie Electric Cooperative was formed and incorporated. Three men from Moultrie County-John G. Waggoner, Carl McKown and Austin Shields- were named to serve on the incorporating board of directors with C. I. Campbell, Walter Daily, Lillian Cottingham and Leland Hallock from Coles County.
The initial loan from R.E.A. was for $355,000 to be used to build 338 miles of lines to serve 753 members in Coles and Moultrie Counties. The desire to have electricity was so great that many members cleared rights-of way and helped set poles in order to get the lines built more quickly. Those lines were first energized on October 20, 1939.
Today, Coles-Moultrie Electric Cooperative (CMEC) has more than 9,500 members and an electrical distribution system stretching more than 1,900 miles, with a net utility plant value of more than $54, 000,000. Members are served in Clark, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Piatt and Shelby Counties in addition to the two original Counties of Moultrie and Coles. We provide electrical service to more than 8,000 residential members, 850 small commercial members, and large commercial members such as Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center, manufacturing facilities such as Mattoon Precision, Inc. and Mid-State Tank Company, plus educational facilities such as Lake Land College and the Arland D. Williams, Jr. School in Mattoon.
A 7-member board of directors represents the members of the cooperative. Each director has a term of three years and must reside within the boundaries of his or her respective district.
We have 30 local employees and annually pay more than $13,000 in property taxes to the counties we serve. Our annual total direct and indirect tax payments to local, state and federal units of government exceed $920,000.
We have repaid our debt to the R.E.A. (now known as RUS) in the amount of $10,667,536 in principal and $4,450,002 in interest and are no longer borrowers of RUS.
As a not-for-profit cooperative, all margins are allocated to our members in the form of capital credits that are paid as the financial condition of the cooperative allows, and as the board of directors determine.
CMEC is an active and integral part of the community we serve. We remain committed to the same goals and interests set forth by those early leaders-the delivery of reliable and affordable electrical energy to meet the needs of our members.