In the beginning...and there was light!
Many of the nation's 1,000 electric cooperatives were organized in 1935 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) as a federal agency established to "... initiate, formulate, administer, and supervise a program of approved projects with respect to generation, transmission and distribution of electric energy in rural areas."
Prior to 1935 and the birth of the REA, less than 11% of the farms in America received central station electricity. During this time period, it was rare for investor owned utilities (IOUs) or municipal utilities to provide electricity to sparsely populated rural areas. The cost of extending their power lines was considered by them to be too great to justify the investment. It was up to the farmers and rural leaders to work together to make power available to all rural people, through the creation of cooperatives.
BENCO Electric Association
Blue Earth-Nicollet-Faribault Cooperative Electric Association (BENCO) was founded on May 11, 1936. The first recorded meeting took place on June 12, 1937 at Mankato City Hall. The first pole on the BENCO system was set on June 27, 1938 in Traverse Township, Nicollet County. The line was energized on September 16, 1938. Faribault County Cooperative Electric Association was founded in 1936. These two cooperative consolidated into Blue Earth-Nicollet-Faribault Cooperative Electric Association (Frost-BENCO Electric) on January 1, 1980. Wells Electric Cooperative was founded in July 1935. Frost-BENCO and Wells Electric cooperative merged in January 1, 1988 and become Frost-BENCO-Wells Electric. In 1998, Frost-BENCO-Wells Electric became a Touchstone Energy® partner and began doing business as BENCO Electric.
Our Power Supplier-Great River Energy (GRE)
BENCO Electric along with 28 other electric cooperatives in Minnesota purchase our wholesale power from Great River Energy (GRE), MN. GRE helps light up this region by serving more than 500,000 Minnesotans. GRE is a Generation and Transmission cooperative (G&T). A G&T generates electricity and transmits it to distribution cooperatives, like BENCO Electric.
"This institution is an equal opportunity provider."