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Kentucky Electric Cooperatives: Through the years 

A timeline of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives, the publisher of Kentucky Living

AS THE FLAGSHIP PUBLICATION of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives, Kentucky Living has been published monthly without interruption since 1948. Our rich history coincides with that of our publisher, the co-op statewide association. While far from complete, this timeline shares some of the key moments in Kentucky’s electric cooperative history.


1935 – First Rural Electrification Administration loan approved in U.S. 

October 1936 – Rural Electrification Administration approves $190,000 loan for Henderson County Rural Electrification Association to build 153 miles of line. It was the first REA loan in Kentucky.

May 19, 1937 – Henderson Union becomes the first electric cooperative to distribute power in Kentucky.

November 1939 – More than 300 people, including representatives of Kentucky’s 24 rural electric cooperatives, attend state conference on rural electrification at University of Kentucky livestock pavilion. 


1940 – Twenty-five rural electric cooperative corporations in Kentucky supply power. 

1941 – Distribution co-ops meet in Shelbyville to discuss establishing a statewide co-op association.

1941 – East Kentucky RECC (generation and transmission cooperative) organized.

1942 – National Rural Electric Cooperative Association formed, with headquarters in Washington, D.C. 

August 26, 1943 – Articles of Incorporation of the Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation officially recorded. First board of directors appointed. It is the 19th such statewide association in the U.S.

June 22-23, 1947 – First annual meeting of Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation at Brown Hotel in Louisville. Banquet speakers: NRECA Executive Manager Clyde T. Ellis and U.S. Sen. John Sherman Cooper.

April 1948 – First issue of Kentucky Electric Co-op News (monthly), Seth Thompson, editor. 

September 1, 1948 – Association begins group purchasing of line equipment, hardware and materials for member systems. 

December 1, 1948 – Group purchasing activity leads to opening of first warehouse on Story Avenue in Louisville.

May 1949 – KRECC launches the Statewide Annual Meeting Program with appliance prizes, entertainment and notable speakers. Tents accommodate large crowds. By the end of summer, more than 100,000 people will have attended 17 meetings. 

June 1949 – Office space rented at 3716 Lexington Road in Louisville. Six rooms in former Kentucky Farm Bureau offices. 

July 1, 1949 – Charlie Foley becomes first marketing representative to travel and coordinate group purchasing for member co-ops in Kentucky, leading to further marketing expansion in adjacent states. 

October 1949 – First KRECC print shop opens at Lewis Seed Co. on Spring Street. 


1950 – Harrison RECC member Katherine Dennis is crowned the first Miss Kentucky Rural Electric, then finishes first runner-up in the national pageant. Katherine would later marry Joe B. Hall, who would become coach of the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team. 

1950 – East Kentucky RECC (G & T) begins active functioning. 

1951 – East Kentucky RECC (G & T) commissions William C. Dale Station in Clark County. 

February 1951 – John Stanford named editor of Rural Kentuckian

September 1951 – Headquarters moves to 1430 Mellwood Avenue, former farm equipment warehouse. 

December 1951 – Special services department opens, includes repair of transformers and meters. Engineering department provides services to member co-ops. 

1952 – Member services department added to assist member cooperatives in their power-use program. 

May 1952 – Association begins oil filtering service at on-site locations. 

June 1952 – Statewide monthly publication changes from Kentucky Electric Co-op News to Rural Kentuckian

March 1953 – Release of film Democracy in the Cornfields, filmed entirely in Kentucky and financed by rural electric co-ops throughout the state, tells the story of the progress of rural electrification in Kentucky, from 3% powered in 1935 to 80% at the time of the film’s release.

1954 – Consumers Credit RECC organized to help members of rural electric systems finance electrical equipment and appliance purchases. 

September 1, 1954 – Association begins a work glove-testing service. 

January 1, 1957 – To ensure cooperatives have access to necessary electric supplies, KRECC begins manufacture of pole-type distribution transformers. 

1958 – KRECC launches the REC School Equipment Loan Program to provide appliances for home economics laboratories in high schools. 

September 1958 – Addison McGhee named editor of Rural Kentuckian

November 6, 1958 – Groundbreaking for construction of new headquarters on Bishop Lane. Statewide staff now numbers 96 employees. Rural Kentuckian magazine circulation at about 150,000. 

January 1959 – Bernard “Bernie” Vonderheide named editor of Rural Kentuckian

May 1959 – Frank C. Strunk named editor of Rural Kentuckian

October 1959 – KRECC moves headquarters and operations to 4515 Bishop Lane. 


1960 – Public Law 166 enacted by Kentucky General Assembly assures territorial integrity of Kentucky rural electric cooperatives, protects service rights of RECCs in areas annexed into cities. 

January 1, 1960 – Statewide RECC formed as arm of the statewide association that markets and distributes electric materials. 

June 1960 – Avery T. Jenkins named editor of Rural Kentuckian

December 1960 – Joint venture begins between Statewide Rural Electric and Ohio’s Rural Electric Supply Cooperative. 

1962 – Allelectric Homes corporation organized to provide research and development regarding rural housing.

1962 – Big Rivers RECC (G & T) formed. 

March 1, 1963 – Statewide RECC expands into Illinois. 

1963 – East Kentucky RECC (G & T) John Sherman Cooper Station begins supplying power to member cooperatives. 

1964 – First United States Agency for International Development (USAID) shipment of materials to Ecuador by KRECC. 

December 1964 – Rural Cooperatives Credit Union chartered for co-op employees and family members. 

March 1965 – Dick Littrell named editor of Rural Kentuckian

1966 – Big Rivers RECC (G & T) Robert Reid Power Station begins supplying power to member cooperatives. 

December 1967 – Claude L. Brock named editor of Rural Kentuckian

December 1967 – KRECC Board approves plans for expansion of Bishop Lane facility, including additional manufacturing and warehouse space. 

1968 – Big Rivers RECC (G & T) Kenneth C. Coleman Power Station begins supplying power to member cooperatives. 

March 1, 1968 – Statewide RECC rents and opens warehouse in Chattanooga, Tennessee. 

August 23, 1968 – Internal memo states that the entry of Kentucky into the transformer manufacturing business caused competitors to reduce their prices 47%. 

December 27, 1968 – KRECC manufactures its 100,000th transformer. 


August 5, 1970 – J.K. Smith becomes governor and CEO of the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC) in Washington, D.C. 

December 1, 1970 – Louis Strong becomes second president of KRECC. 

December 1970 – Ladell J. Futch named editor of Rural Kentuckian

1972 – Utility territorial bill approved by Kentucky General Assembly, one of the strongest in the U.S. 

1972 – First year of the Kentucky Rural Electric Washington Youth Tour, with 18 students and four chaperones. 

April 1973 – 25th anniversary issue of Rural Kentuckian. 

December 19, 1973 – Statewide RECC constructs and stocks warehouse in Pennsylvania. 

March 1974 – KRECC Board approves plans for another expansion of Bishop Lane facility, roughly doubling the size. 

June 1974 – KRECC changes name to Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives (KAEC). 

July 1974 – Statewide RECC changes name to United Utility Supply Cooperative reflecting the fact that the organization had grown into a regional business rather than one for Kentucky co-ops only. Board composition established by a formula based on the amount of business a state or area does with UUS. 

1974 – DECO founded as a wholly-owned subsidiary of KAECa. DECO is a tax-paying organization that markets to non-cooperatives such as municipal electric utilities and HVAC contractors. 

July 1975 – KAEC President Louis Strong also serves as editor-in-chief of Rural Kentuckian

April 1976 – United Utility Supply Cooperative builds and stocks warehouse in Decatur, Illinois. 

June 1977 – United Utility Supply Cooperative moves Chattanooga operation to warehouse constructed in Prattville, Alabama. 

December 1977 – KAEC Board approves plans for another expansion, enabling the organization to manufacture its own tanks and add warehouse space. 

October 1979 – Gary W. Luhr named editor of Rural Kentuckian.


August 1981 – Ron Sheets becomes third president of KAEC after three years serving as vice president of government relations. 

1982 – Our Power is Our People adopted as theme of KAEC. 

April 1989 – Statewide monthly publication changes from Rural Kentuckian to Kentucky Living. 


December 1994 – Donna Bunch Miller named editor of Kentucky Living

November 1995 – Paul Wesslund named editor of Kentucky Living

July 12, 1996 – KAEC manufactures its 1 millionth transformer. 

July 1998 – 50th anniversary issue of Kentucky Living.

December 1999 – Cumulative sales in KRECC/KAEC/UUS history exceed $1 billion.


January 2001 – UUS warehousing operation moved to remodeled Cooperative Distribution Center in Louisville. Eighteen-acre property is former Enro Shirt Factory. 

December 2006 – UUS gross yearly sales exceed $100 million. 

November 2008 Let There Be Light: The Story of Rural Electrification in Kentucky by David Dick published. 

2009 – Bill Corum becomes fourth president of KAEC and UUS. 

July 2009 Frozen State: The deadly beauty of the 2009 ice storm and the heroic story of how Kentuckians fought back published.


August 1, 2014 – Fleming-Mason Energy President/CEO Chris Perry becomes fifth president of KAEC and United Utility Supply Cooperative. 

August 2015 – Anita Travis Richter named editor of Kentucky Living; Joe Arnold named vice president of strategic communications. 

December 2015 – Association reorganizes, transitions electric transformer business to a distribution-only model through UUS. Agreement with Electric Research and Manufacturing Cooperative Inc. (ERMCO) for UUS to utilize its industry-leading warehouse and distribution network to distribute ERMCO transformers across the UUS footprint, primarily in the eastern United States. ERMCO purchases the assets of the KAEC production plant. 

January 2018 – Association headquarters moves to 1630 Lyndon Farm Court. 

November 2018 – KAEC rebranded as Kentucky Electric Cooperatives.


January 2023 – Shannon Brock named editor of Kentucky Living

August 2023 – 75th anniversary issue of Kentucky Living.

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