The History of Douglas Electric Co-op
Douglas Electric Cooperative (DEC) is a private, not-for-profit electric utility owned by the members it serves. It was established to provide its members with the most reliable electric service at the lowest possible cost. DEC's service area covers 2200 square miles in western and northern Douglas County, with small portions in northeast and southeast Coos County and south Lane County. City of Drain is not within DEC's boundaries.
A seven member Board of Directors governing the cooperative is elected by and from its membership; therefore, the members ultimately control the cooperative. The Board meets monthly to set policies and review the operations of DEC. Its directors are elected at the Annual Meeting held each year on the first Saturday in April. Each director serves, without salary, a three year term. Nominations for election to the Board of Directors from each respective district are made by petition signed by 15 or more members who reside in that district and must be filed in DEC's headquarters at least 60 days prior to the Member Meeting.
While each member owns the cooperative, no member shall be individually liable or responsible for any debts or liabilities of the cooperative.
Why Electric Cooperatives?
In the early 1930's, prior to the establishment of electric cooperatives such as Douglas Electric, rural America was almost in total darkness. Nearly 90 percent of our nation's rural areas were without electricity.
In 1936, Congress acted to remove rural areas from the "Dark Ages" by creating the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), formerly the Rural Electrification Administration (REA). Initially, low-interest REA loans were made available to commercial power companies for the purpose of electrifying rural areas.
Why Douglas Electric Cooperative?
When the power companies failed to take advantage of REA loans, the agency turned to providing loans to locally-owned electric cooperatives.
On September 7, 1939, West Douglas Electric Cooperative began supplying power to 209 members. On July 15, 1941, North Douglas Electric Cooperative began supplying power to 125 members. A merger of the two young cooperatives was ratified on June 30, 1942, to form the present day Douglas Electric Cooperative.
Electric cooperatives have helped to bring rural America out of the "Dark Ages." Obviously, so important a job is never completely done.