When the lights came on

USDA program brought electricity and a better way of life to rural America

Dan Campbell,
Managing Editor

USDA used posters such as this to spread the word about the benefits of electricity for farmers and other rural people. USDA photo

ixty-five years ago, America was is in the grips of the worst economic depression of the 20th century. In rural areas, the situation was particularly bleak especially for the 6 million Americans who earned their living as farmers. At a time when 90 percent of the urban population had electricity in their homes, only one in 10 rural Americans had electric service. The power companies felt the low population densities of the nation's rural heartland simply would not yield the type of profits they needed to justify extending service to 95 percent of the nation's land mass.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt realized that living standards in rural areas would continue to lag behind urban areas without electric service, and that it would take bold, decisive action to help rural Americans get it. So on May 11, 1935, he signed an executive order creating the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This federal agency helped rural Americans all across the nation form user owned cooperatives and provided them with loans needed to build a rural electric infrastructure. These co-ops, in partnership with USDA/REA, brought electric service to even the most remote corners of the nation. Electricity was the fuel for the economic engine that revolutionized rural life. In pre-electricity days, farm chores were often done by the dim light of kerosene or coal-oil lamps. Those flickering lights all too often illuminated faces of rural people crushed in their prime by the rigors of rural life, Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman said during an event in Washington, D.C., marking the 65th anniversary of the creation of the REA.

Glickman recalled the daily struggles of rural people in those pre-electricity days by quoting Senator George Norris, one of the co-sponsors of the Rural Electrification Act: "I had seen firsthand the grim drudgery and grind ... I had seen the tallow candle in my own home, followed by the coal-oil lamp. I knew what it was like to take care of farm chores by the flickering, undependable light of the lantern in the mud and cold rains of the fall, and the snow and icy winds of winter. I recall the ... scenes of harvest and the unending, punishing tasks performed by hundreds of thousands of women, growing old prematurely; dying before their time ......

President Roosevelt found these conditions unacceptable, Glickman said. "If private utilities wouldn't find a way to wire rural America, he would see to it that the government loaned the money necessary to make it happen." Within just a few years of that order, 300,000 rural Americans had electrical power, an increase of 25 percent. The rate of "wired" farms continued to climb with each passing year. Electricity eased many of the burdens for rural life. Work could be done much more efficiently and safely with electric light. Electricity meant that refrigeration systems which helped keep food supplies safe and created new opportunities for the production and shipment of perishable commodities became far more widespread. Electricity helped mechanize many tasks that had previously been done by hand. Electricity was not simply an added convenience for rural Americans. It helped make them the world's most productive producers of food and fiber and dramatically improved their living standards.

Breaking the bonds of poverty
"The day the lights finally came on at our farm, I remember my mother cried," former Agriculture Secretary Bob Bergland recalled during the anniversary celebration. They were tears of joy, he said, because with the arrival of electricity on his parents' subsistence farm near the border of Minnesota and Canada, "she finally saw a chance for our family to break the bonds of poverty. "We lived in poverty, as did most of the other 6 million farms then operating in the United States," he said. "You struggled to stay alive." Bergland recalled the first three electric appliances his family bought. The first purchase was electric lights for the house, followed by a toaster and then a "98 cent hair curler my mother bought at J.C. Penney and kept all her life."

Art Campbell, Deputy Under Secretary for Policy and Planning at USDA Rural Development, said he too has vivid memories of the day his parents' farm was wired for electricity. "I remember singing with robust glee in celebration as our little strip of houses along a dirt road was connected to electricity. We sang out with joy and no small amount of amazement: Oh the lights, the lights, Lottie Mae got light and we got lights! Oh the lights, the lights." Campbell said, "REA is government at its best: doing things critical for the common welfare that are beyond the ability of individuals to do for themselves." Glenn English, CEO of National Rural Electrification Cooperative Association (NRECA), described the REA as "a partnership between government and ordinary people who have used cooperatives as a business device to own the utilities that mean so much to them." REA, English continued, enabled rural co-ops to build "the finest electrical infrastructure in the nation, bar-none ... REA is a great program that performed great deeds," he said, noting that it built half of the nation's electric infrastructure. He also praised REA/Rural Utilities Service (RUS) as a highly efficient program.

Louisan mamer receives a Lifetime Achievement Award from USDA Rural Utilities Service Administrator Chris McLean. Inset photo: Mamer, circa 1935, making a presentation about the use of electricity in the home and on the farm during one of the "electric circus" shows. USDA photo

Electric circus
To help educate rural people in the 1930s about how they could use electricity in their homes and on their farms, REA sponsored a traveling road show, which became known as the "electric circus." Louisan Mamer was one of REA's first employees, hired in 1935 to help stage those road shows. She was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award during the anniversary ceremony and shared some memories of those early days. Mamer recalled being intrigued by an REA advertisement seeking people with "a pioneering spirit." Born in 1910 and raised on a farm in southern Illinois, where her father cleared 1,000 acres of Illinois River bottom land, Mamer said she knew well the hard labor of rural life. So when the chance came to leave home to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana, she took it. The REA road shoe used two big circus tents, one for a general meeting and the other to demonstrate electrical appliances and farm equipment, Mamer recalled. One of her main duties was to speak to farm wives to help them "convince their husbands to pay to join a cooperative." Small radios and electric irons were among the first appliances sold. In the North, washing machines were in big demand, while refrigeration was more of a priority in the South. Mamer also trained other instructors so that they could conduct work-shops, and she developed training materials, remaining with REA until her retirement in 1981. "Education, inspiration, involvement and recognition" are the keys to success in life and business, Mamer said. "Let people know what they do is appreciated.".

REA legacy all around
As America celebrates REA's 65th anniversary, the wisdom of Roosevelt's action in 1935 is obvious: 95 percent of all rural Americans now have electric service and nearly half of all rural electric lines in the nation were built under this program. Through REA, $56 billion has been invested in rural electric service for rural Americans. The program now administered under the Rural Utilities Service of USDA Rural Development continues to invest more than $1 billion in rural electric infrastructure development each year.

Some say USDA's rural electric program has served its purpose and is no longer needed. But electric systems are aging and must be upgraded to meet the increasing power demands of rural customers. The program will be "just as important to rural America in the 21st century as it was in the 20th century," Bergland said. English predicted that reliability will become a key issue for electric service in the years ahead. He said the only power systems in the nation built to meet federal standards are those financed by the Rural Utilities Service. RUS could help bring the entire electric infrastructure of the nation up to these high standards, he said.

President Roosevelt's creation of the USDA Rural Electrification Administration in 1935 brought electric light and power to rural people, and eased many burdens of rural life.

RUS Administrator Chris McLean said USDA's rural utility programs are vital to ensure that rural people are not left on the wrong side of a digital or social/economic divide. "Dramatic regulatory and market changes are occurring in the telecommunications, electric and water utility sectors," McLean said. "Without the help of RUS, rural America will have a more difficult time keeping pace with the revolutionary changes being experienced in these industries. It is imperative that the federal government be actively involved in providing a funding network of support services to ensure full participation in the 21st century economy."

Glickman concurred, saying "The infrastructure required to keep rural America viable and competitive grows more sophisticated every day. Sixty-five years ago, it was basic electricity. In today's high-tech, information economy, it's Internet access, modems and satellites. "We are beginning to see a gap similar to the one we saw earlier this century, with most of the tools of the Information Age concentrated in the hands of urban and suburban Americans," Glickman said. Rural communities, meanwhile, are in danger of being left behind," he noted. "RUS is responding with more resources for programs such as distance learning and telemedicine to bring improved educational opportunities and health care services to rural communities. "All of us together still have a big hill to climb," Glickman continued. "Let's make this anniversary more than a celebration. Let's use it as inspiration to work that much harder to ensure that rural Americans enjoy affordable access to modern electronic tools they need to prosper in the 21st century."

Editor note: Below and following are four profiles of rural electric cooperatives that RUS works closely with and which are making a major impact on the economy and quality of life in rural America.

Iowa RECs reach 15-year milestone for rural development

Pamela J. Karg
Field Editor

With 85 to 90 percent of its sales to farmers and other rural residents, Central Iowa Power Cooperative leaders knew they needed to do something to promote electrical use in the countryside. Otherwise, the investments by local farmers and rural residents through their electric cooperatives for generating stations and transmission lines were inevitably going to be borne by fewer and fewer people.

"We had done a few things to try to stimulate electrical sales, but it became apparent it was a bigger job than we had the resources for," said Mel Nicholas, who was then working with Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO), a Cedar Rapids based generation and transmission cooperative. CIPCO is the wholesale power supplier for 13 rural electric distribution cooperatives and one municipal cooperative. Together, CIPCO and the CIPCO Systems supply the electric service needs of 250,000 Iowan's who live in a service territory that stretches 300 miles diagonally across northeastern Iowa to its southwestern corner. CIPCO has participated in the loan program of USDA's Rural Utilities Services since 1946.

In 1980, CIPCO sold less electricity than it had in the previous year. That's when Nicholas hatched an idea to have all of Iowa's power-generation cooperatives pool their resources to fund what would eventually become the Iowa Area Development Group (IADG). By 1985, Iowa's farm economy had been badly battered and rural electric sales were flat, at best. IADG's formation that year could not have come at a better time.

"Our goal was jobs and wealth creation in rural areas," says Dennis Murdock, CIPCO chief executive officer. "There was little focus at the time on job creation in rural areas served by electric cooperatives, which were also the parts of Iowa where the farm crisis had taken a heavy toll on farm men and women who were searching for off-farm income opportunities."

During the past 15 years, IADG and Iowa's rural electric cooperatives (REC) have been instrumental in creating business and community development opportunities across Iowa. IADG is the marketing and economic development agency for nearly 70 of Iowa's rural electric cooperatives and select municipal electric systems across the state. IADG has assisted with over 850 successful business expansions and new locations. This growth represents capital investment of more than $2.5 billion and more than 26,000 new jobs.

USDA had credited IADG with initiating 57 grants and loans totaling more than $16 million for projects across the state that led to 2,900 new jobs. All IADG services are offered at no charge to new and expanding businesses, compliments of Iowa's rural electric cooperatives.

IADG's sponsors are the generation and transmission cooperatives serving Iowa, which includes CIPCO, Cedar Rapids; Corn Belt Power Cooperative, Humboldt; Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative, LeMars; and Northeast Missouri Electric Power Cooperative, Palmyra. The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation is also an IADG sponsor. The two have been working together since 1997 to advance Value-added agricultural opportunities in Iowa.

How did the electric cooperatives and their new economic development entity know what industries to attract or to expand? Where did they start in the face of a farm and a rural economy spinning quickly out of control?

The Answer came through research conducted by the internationally known Battelle Institute. "IADG hired the firm to comprehensively study Iowa's development advantages and assets, and come up with a list of the kinds of industries the state might have the best chance of attracting, "said Bruce Hansen, vice president of marketing on the six-person IADG staff, located in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Hansen said the list identifies viable industries for the state, including biotechnology, electronics, metal fabrication, plastics, furniture and other wood products, printing and publishing, value-added agriculture and food processing, warehousing and distribution, and telecommunications.

"These are our priorities and we keep a clear and definite mission surrounding these priorities," Hansen said. For example, IADG worked hard during the waning months of the 1980s and during the 1990s to help re-build Iowa's egg industry. Iowa was the No. 1 egg-producing state in the 1950s, but it had fallen to 24th in the nation by the late 1980s.

Through targeted marketing and national promotions, Iowa has climbed back to the top. In 1999, Iowa produced 6.7 billion eggs, second only to Ohio, which produced nearly 8.2 billion. The state is now number two in layers on feed and in gross egg production.

IADG worked with Southwest Iowa Egg Cooperative in Massena, which went into full production in December 1999. It expects to market some 156 million eggs worth up to $7 million. The co-op is owned by 275 Iowans and Iowa entities, primarily area farmers who wanted better prices for their corn.

IADG and the local REC, Farmers Electric Cooperative in Greenfield, helped the egg cooperative get started. In addition, IADG and Farmers Electric helped Southwest Iowa Egg secure a 10-year, no-interest $400,000 loan from USDA Rural Development under its Rural Economic Development Loan Program. The program provides zero-interest loans to Rural Utilities Service-financed electric and telephone utilities to promote rural economic development and job creation. The impact of the egg facility is being felt throughout the community with added employment and a new corn market for local farmers.

The list of success stories going on for IADG and Iowa's RECs. The Rural Housing Institute (RHI) recently opened a new manufacturing plant to become a resource for communities to develop, finance, and build affordable housing in rural areas. RHI received an $80,000, zero-interest loan from USDA Rural Development, which was sponsored by Eastern Iowa Light & Power in Wilton.

Meanwhile, I.I.P. Rural Electric Cooperative in Brooklyn, Iowa, applied for and received $450,000 zero-interest loans on behalf of the Rosewood Farms food-processing project. This business will upgrade, renovate and re-open the former Louis Rich plant in Sigourney, Iowa.

"These are just a few recent examples of many projects that IADG and the Iowa RECs have helped develop across Iowa during the past 15-years", said Hansen. "The success of IADG is a fine example of the determination of Iow's REC s similar to the 1930s When rural Iowa leaders stood up to the challenge of bring electric power to the countryside the RECs continue to be innovators with the foresight to help change the economy and landscape in rural Iowa".

For more information on the Rural Economic Development Loan program, visit our website at:
www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/busp/redl, or contact any USDA Rural Development field office or USDA Service Center. Or call (202) 720-4323, then enter "1" and follow the voice prompts to be connected to your USDA Rural Development state office.

Pennsylvania co-ops take development underground

The Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association and its member cooperatives have been key players in establishing distance learning and telemedicine network links that allow rural schools, libraries and hospitals to access information and specialized training previously only available in urban areas. But now the association is involved in another initiative that gets to the heart of life in rural areas: wastewater management.

Three years ago, an innovative on lot sewerage treatment system installed at a Catherine Township, Pa., residence had a decidedly statewide significance. The system at the home of Valley Electric Cooperative member Gary Discavage was the start of the PREAs Rural Wastewater Initiative, an ambitious effort to find a solution to wastewater disposal problems in rural areas and work out an innovative licensing agreement with the state.

Large areas of rural Pennsylvania are neither served by central sewage systems nor suitable for conventional septic or sand mound systems. "A virtual moratorium on development has been imposed in many areas as a result," said Russ Biggica, PREA director of public affairs. "We're talking about some of the most rural of rural areas, and people can't sell their homes. They can't will them to their children. They can't give them away. It's all because of the problems associated with wastewater disposal and ground-water contamination." The solution is the innovative septic systems PREA, local electric cooperatives and state agencies started testing in 1998. PREA can be credited with helping rural people find a solution that Biggica said does not promote urban sprawl yet does promote improved health and safety.

"We did our demonstration projects in which we showed that the system has cleaner water flowing out of it than is coming out of many of our rural wells," he said. In the new system, solids settle and are retained in a septic tank before the liquid effluent passes through a filter and, by gravity, into a box filled with sand, where it is filtered still further. The sand box also contains a recirculating pump that distributes, or doses, the effluent over the filter media several times before it is discharged. The filter works through the activity of micro-organisms that colonize the spaces between the sand particles and use the waste material in the effluent for food. Finally, an ultraviolet filter kills any remaining bacteria that might have survived. The effluent meets or exceeds federal Clean Water Act standards. PREA is now working to get the system accepted by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for routine use without need for special permitting.

The on-lot sewerage treatment system tested in rural Pennsylvania by the state's electric cooperative association uses the newest technology to produce an effluent that exceeds EPA standards.

"We need to consider the economic side of the problem. A virtual moratorium on housing and development exists because there are no central sewerage systems, which creates a hardship for many rural people," Biggica said. Pennsylvania has an abundance of water, but it also has abandoned acid mining facilities, past farming practices that included heavy use of chemicals, and old, leaking sewerage systems. In many areas of rural Pennsylvania, owning land and investing in property had become a losing proposition.

"We have shallow soil here because of the glaciers, and we can no longer use the soil or traditional septic technology," Biggica said. As a service organization, PREA works with local electric co-ops to provide professional and technical assistance, such as developing comprehensive local development strategies and seeking out-of-state and federal economic development grants. Pennsylvania co-ops, for example, spurred job creation by guaranteeing 24 zero-interest loans secured through USDA's Rural Business-Cooperative Service. The projects funded by these loans benefit entire rural communities, not just areas served by rural electric co-ops. "Helping rural areas find a remedy for wastewater disposal problems is a priority for PREA and its member cooperatives," he stressed. With more than 60 years of experience in providing affordable and reliable electric service, co-ops are a ready-made delivery system for improving the economic health of their rural communities, Biggica added. As a result, co-ops do more than just supply power. They aggressively work to attract new businesses to rural areas, plus help existing businesses expand. In addition, PREA and its member-cooperatives undertake projects that improve both rural infrastructure and the rural quality of life cornerstones to economic development and job creation.

"We are perceived as rural advocates," Biggica added. "We did not get into the business of electricity for the money making end of it. We are in the electricity business for quality of life issues. You can have the best economic development plans in the world, but if you don't have sewers and roads and good schools if you don't have a good infrastructure your economic development plans don't work." As rural advocates, PREA officials expect to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Pennsylvania environmental department to establish the first ever public-private partnership in septic system installation. Under the agreement, rural cooperatives not only financed research into the new technology but will also have a hand in ensuring it is properly licensed, installed and managed. "With our reputation, we got through the regulation system three times faster than other groups coming forward with new technology," said Biggica. "And now we have the regulatory agency acknowledging that they trust us enough to ensure the technology is used correctly."

Maine co-op building support for economic development

In eastern Maine, rural towns average about 361 people. Remove the two largest communities in the territory served by Eastern Maine Electric Cooperative (EMEC) and that average would drop to 281 hardy Nor' easters. "With populations so low, many towns cannot afford a town office, much less someone to focus their energy on economic development, so along comes the concept of regional development", explains Charles McAlpin, director of public relations for EMEC, headquartered in Calais, Maine, one of the tow largest communities in this most rural of rural Maine regions. Economic development professionals agree that development is more successful if undertaken on a regional basis, when individual towns work together as part of a larger community. "The regional effort has three primary advantages," McAlpin adds. "Those include more people to share the workload, more money with which to operate, and greater political clout to influence state and federal policy."

Three years ago, EMEC entered the planning effort in a big way, helping small towns and businesses band together to talk regional economic development. By helping encourage business growth, promoting the region to perspective businesses and encouraging internal changes to make the region more marketable, EMEC assists the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development and regional councils. EMEC is committed to bringing a renewed quality of life to its members who live in parts of Aroostook, Penobscot and Washington counties, which border Canada. To that end, EMEC has worked with several councils, including Eastern Maine Development Corporation, Sunrise County Economic Council (SCEC) and Saint Croix Economic Alliance (SEA). EMEC took a more direct role, as well. The co-op applied for a $700,000 zero-interest, pass-through loan on behalf of a local company, Washington County Psycho-therapy Associates (WCPA). With this money as part of a multi-tiered financing package, WCPA will establish a youth treatment facility that will create 65 new, skilled jobs in the region.

This financing was possible through the Rural Economic development Loan program of USDA Rural Development. Under this program, electric cooperatives participating in USDA/RUS programs can apply for pass-through loans for businesses creating jobs in depressed rural areas. The cooperative's involvement in the project did not end with the loan, however, EMEC also sold a building to the City of Calais, purchased by the city for a business incubator under the Community Development Block Grant program. The city is leasing the building to WCPA for the project, thereby cutting the project's starting cost. Although the program was available for some time, it had gone unused because to be useful it needed the type of major regional development effort now underway, says Jim Dean, Chief executive officer of EMEC. "A lot of people in the Calais area and elsewhere across the state worked in a very coordinated way to bring this about." Those backers included Maine Governor Angus King, Congressman John Baldacci and Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and numerous governmental organizations.

Among the project's many benefits are new, quality jobs and the ability to treat children at home in Maine. Children who are clients of WCPA are currently sent out of state for treatment, at great cost. This project saves the state money, brings funds to a depressed region from out of state, and most importantly, will allow local parents to be more involved in the recovery of their children. In Washington County, where unemployment was in the double digits in the late 1990s, the state and businesses such as EMEC have helped refocus efforts on a variety of economic development resources. The efforts established a strong partnership between the State Planning Office and the Sunrise County Economic Council to build long-term economic development capacity for the county. The partnership prompted the SCEC to begin a $1 million endowment drive.

The State also spent more than $20 million in Washington County for the new Port of Eastport, reconstruction of Route 9 and for infrastructure improvements in numerous communities. Meanwhile, Cherryfield Foods expanded cranberry beds. Atlantic Salmon of Maine built a new processing plant in Machiasport, which added 30 jobs. And Destiny 2000 plans to enhance opportunities for tourism while conserving cultural and natural resources. The SCEC commissioned "Cultivating Jobs from the Sea in Washington County" to develop strategies that encourage the growth of targeted sectors of Washington County's marine economy. These sectors include: Fish Processing, Aquaculture Support Services, Wild & Cultured shellfish, Marine Engineering and Fabrication, Marine Biotechnology, and Marine Research Conferences and Institutes. Harvesters, Aquaculturists, and business people in Washington County are already putting these strategies to work. "Regional economic development efforts affect the EMEC service territory, "McAlpin said ." It must be stressed that these are private efforts that cooperative with state efforts, but are independent of them. While co-op staff have varying levels of involvement with these different organizations, we encourage anyone with an interest in the future of their region to support these groups when the opportunity arises."

Pamela J. Karg, Field Editor

Mohave Electric Co-op's quick response attracts major source of jobs to service area

Mohave Electric Cooperative and its power supplier joined forces to draft an innovative service agreement in less than four months that helped attract a major new industry and is the source of 650 construction and/or permanent jobs added to its Arizona service area. The area's investor-owned utility had tried unsuccessfully for three years to accomplish the same feat.

"This was an innovative power supply agreement that became this utility's and the state's first venture into retail power wheeling long before deregulation took effect in Arizona," says Mark Harris, communications manager for Mohave Electric Cooperative (MEC), headquartered in Bullhead City, Ariz.

Hohave Electric and its generation and transmission source, Arizona Electric Power Cooperative (AEPCO) both long-time participants in USDA's Rural Utilities Service loan program put together a package that included 80 megawatts of hourly demand so that North Star Steel Co., a division of Cargill, Inc., would locate its $140 million manufacturing plant in Kingman, Ariz.

The North Star plant was the first to be build in Arizona that is deriving benefits from the Environment Technology Manufacturing Act (ETMA). The ETMA gives long-term tax benefits to companies that primarily produce manufactured goods through recycling, and companies that are committed to renewable-energy product manufacturing. The North Star mill has a high-tech, automated processing system that uses electric arc furnaces to make about 500,000 tons of construction-grade steel from vehicle bodies, appliances and other recycled material that are shipped by road or rail.

Mohave Electric CEO Robert E. Broz (left) worked with the North Star company to provide power to its mill without the cooperative incurring debt for capital investment. Photo by Mark E. Harris, courtesy MEC

When ground was broken in 1995, the plant brought some 500 construction jobs. Now about 150 permanent jobs have been added to Kingman and Mohave County. The estimated economic impact of the plant on the county is $23.75 million. The power supply contract required the Western Area Power Administration to build a switching yard, funded by North Star, under existing transmission facilities at the plant site. Through the contracted arrangement, North Star take power directly off the grid at the best market price available, Harris said.

Power delivery is handled by the AEPCO dispatch center in Benson, Ariz. Power travels over WAPA lines, but service is provided by Mohave Electric. At no time throughout the negotiations and contract singing were Mohave Electric assets put at risk, and the cooperative assumed no new debt. "It also set a precedent in that Citizens Utilities ceded a portion of its service territory to Mohave Electric. So the North Star plant became an island of our service territory, surrounded by an IOU (investor owned utility), " Harris said

"The MEC and AEPCO were able to work together to meet the needs of a new customer is a good example of what cooperatives are all about," said Fred Grigg, a MEC director. He was involved in the negotiations over the contract, and also witnessed MEC's efforts to help Citizens Utilities and North Star negotiate an agreement during the previous three years.

"We were excited by the mill's impact on local economic development," Grigg added. MEC serves all of Bullhead City as well as parts of Mohave County, including the areas north and south of Kingman. Now MEC provides an island of electrical service to the North Star mill near Kingman's borders, which is otherwise served by IOU Citizens Utilities. "This type of contract provides North Star with energy at costs that will help ensure the mill's success," said Robert E. Broz, chief executive officer of MEC. "Our member-owners and AEPCO member-owners benefit through increased sales without incurring debt for capital investment. We worked hard with North Star to make this happen."

Pamela J. Karg, Field Editor

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