MOULTRIE – 2021 marks Colquitt EMC’s 85th anniversary of providing power.
Representatives said the cooperative has seen tremendous growth through the years.
In a statement, Colquitt EMC took a look back at its history.
In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order creating the Rural Electrification Administration. Immediately following the order, Colquitt County Chamber of Commerce President H.G. Ray, Sen. Richard Russell and Congressman E.E. Cox began working with the Colquitt County Board of Commissioners to begin the process of bringing electricity to the county.
Later that year, a preliminary Colquitt County Rural Electric Company was formed with county commissioners serving as directors. Cliff Jenkins and William Tillman served alternately as president.
The Colquitt County Rural Electric Company was chartered Sept. 28, 1936, and the company signed a $275,000 contract authorizing the construction of 270 miles of line that would bring power to 1,040 customers. On Oct. 23, 1936, the contract was signed, and permanent board officers were elected – Cliff Jenkins, president; W.M. Tillman, vice president; W.W. King, secretary-treasurer. Van T. Crosby and John Suber were named directors.
On July 10, 1937, Jenkins flipped a switch energizing the first unit of the Colquitt County REA system, which was a 15-mile stretch from Moultrie to Berlin serving 36 customers, representatives said.
It has been said that some customers “burned every light in the house well past midnight.” Following the commissioning of the Moultrie-Berlin line, the line to Ellenton was completed.
In 1939, Colquitt County REA separated from commissioner sponsorship and directors were selected from other counties being served. By 1940, there were 2,573 members and 1,165 miles of line, and by 1945, the cooperative had 3,988 customers and 1,183 miles of line.
Colquitt County REA moved into its headquarters building at 15 Rowland Drive in 1950. The building served Colquitt EMC until Oct. 1, 2019 when a new, state-of-the-art headquarters building was commissioned across the street from the original headquarters building. In 1969, the cooperative opened the Valdosta district office, and by 1976, the Tifton district office was opened, and branch offices were opened in Adel, Nashville and Quitman.
In October 1976, members voted to change the name of the company to Colquitt Electric Membership Corporation. Colquitt EMC’s 173 employees currently serve more than 47,150 members with more than 70,000 meters and 9,100 miles of line within a seven-county service area, including Brooks, Berrien, Cook, Colquitt, Lowndes, Tift and Worth.
"Colquitt EMC strives for innovation and growth that will benefit the membership," representatives said. "The cooperative offers members the modern conveniences of account management through their automated phone line, new website and mobile app. Members can also stay in the know through the cooperative’s social media accounts and with the live power outage map that was released in 2020."
The cooperative is involved in the community. Through Colquitt EMC’s Unclaimed Capital Credit Fund, more than $3.4 million in scholarships for students and $127,000 in Bright Ideas grants for teachers have been awarded. Colquitt EMC has also sponsored delegates for the NRECA Washington Youth Tour since 2006.
"Since the beginning, Colquitt EMC has welcomed the opportunity to educate others on electrical safety and energy conservation," reprsentatives said. "The cooperative regularly presents programs at various local school presentations and youth and civic organizations."
In 2020, Colquitt EMC began a partnership with Windstream to bring fiber broadband service to the membership. The partnership will expand Windstream’s fiber optic broadband network and bring internet speeds of up to 1 Gig to Colquitt EMC members during the next several years, representatives said.
"Colquitt EMC is proud to have served South Georgia for 85 years," representatives said. "The cooperative’s success and growth would not be possible without the support of the members and board of directors."