Currently there are 16,740 owners or members of Guernsey-Muskingum Electric Cooperative Inc.
Since 1938, the Cooperative has provided electric to the rural areas of Guernsey, Muskingum, southern Tuscarawas, northern Morgan and small portions of five other counties.
Member-owners have the right and responsibility to attend the annual meeting in March or April to be educated about its activities and to elect board members who oversee the business.
In the 1930s electricity was common ... as long as one lived in the city. The countryside was still in the dark. Investor-owned power companies were willing to provide the needed amenities of the period for city dwellers.
Out in the farmlands the farmer could not use an electric water pump. The cows had to be milked by hand. He or she didnt have an electric feed grinder and had to stick hundreds of ears of corn into a grinder and crank it by hand for hours in order to provide feed for the mules and horses.
The farmer had to stumble through the barn by kerosene lamp light if he had to work after sunset. In the home, washing, ironing, cooking, canning and shearing all had to be done by hand. Wood or coal stoves heated homes, water and food.
In the city, labor saving devices were greatly improving the quality of life. Because there was no electric service for those living in rural areas, electricity was becoming the great divider between the city and the country. One part of the nation lived in light, the other in darkness. One class was enlightened, the other class was backward.
The farmers wanted electricity. However, power companies said serving rural areas would be too costly because the houses were too far apart and farmers would not use much electricity. Farmers would have to stay in the dark because there was no profit to be made in serving them.
Under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Rural Electrification Administration was formed in 1935 to administer a program to encourage rural electrification by lending low-interest money to any group or company that would undertake the task.
Even with the offer of low-interest financing, almost all of the private electric companies chose not to get involved. Instead, the farmers decided to form the cooperatives to do the job themselves. On April 4, 1938, a group of Rural Electrification Association Committeemen from Muskingum, Guernsey, Tuscarawas, Morgan and Noble counties met in New Concord. The group voted to incorporate. The name of the association was Guernsey-Muskingum Electric Cooperative Inc.
Construction began on April 15, 1939, and the first few miles of lines were energized to provide electric service to a handful of consumer-owners. Today the Cooperative owns and maintains 13 sub-stations and over 2,800 miles of poles and wire. One of the Cooperative principals is community involvement, providing scholarships, safety demonstrations and various tasks for local communities.
Recently Guernsey-Muskingum undertook a significant renovation of their one office building in New Concord after it was discovered that the trusses, built in 1962, were failing. A new metal roof was installed, replacing the shingles and other energy efficient opportunities were addressed. The circa 1960s windows, lights, heating and cooling and insulation are being updated. A security system is being added to prepare the building for another generation of providing safe, reliable electricity to the fine members of Southeast Ohio.
Business hours are Labor Day through Memorial Day, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, window only; Memorial Day through Labor Day, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, window only.
For information, call 826-7661 or check out the website at www.gmenergy.com.