OAEC Celebrates 75 Years of Service
Formed in 1942 to provide services and support to Oklahoma’s rural electric cooperatives, the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC)—or as it has been known since its early days, the “Statewide,”—recently celebrated 75 years of service.
From its inception in 1942, the Statewide staff—at that time comprised of a general manager and secretary—were housed in a small room at the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture building. Ten years later, in 1952, in order to better accommodate the growth of Oklahoma’s rural electric cooperatives, the Statewide moved from a small office to a fair-sized building at the corner of Oklahoma and 27th Street near the State Capitol.
Virginia McClain was hired in 1952 to assist with secretarial duties. She was the fourth employee at the Statewide.
“I started the day of the grand opening of the new building. There were three employees when I began working for the Statewide: a general manager, a features editor and a secretary,” McClain said.
McClain felt at home when she began her tenure at OAEC. Her father, Carl J. Booher, was one of the pioneers who fought for the cause of rural electrification in Oklahoma. Booher, a longtime farmer, knocked door-to-door recruiting $5 co-op membership fees in the farms surrounding his homestead in Luther.
“If our neighbors did not have the $5 fee for membership, dad would do what he could to help them out,” McClain said.
Booher was a dedicated board member at Central Electric Cooperative for 40 years. He was passionate to advance rural electrification in Oklahoma, and was happy to see his daughter working for an organization that would represent and unite electric cooperatives.
In 1970, the OAEC board decided to purchase a property in north Oklahoma City to better accommodate a growing organization. Through the years, OAEC has grown and matured to provide added services as well as political action.
The property acquired by the OAEC Board in 1970 continues to serve as a suitable home for the association. In 2013, the OAEC board of directors approved the expansion of the current facility and the addition of a new conference center to better accommodate board meetings and numerous training events held at the association each month. OAEC proudly serves 30 member-systems: 27 distribution electric cooperatives and three generation and transmission cooperatives. Collectively, Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives serve nearly 630,000 meters and maintain 117,000 miles of distribution line.
“Together, through the spirit of cooperation, we will honor the sacrifice of our pioneers and build on the legacy of providing safe, reliable and affordable electricity to member-owners across the state,” OAEC Chief Executive Officer, Chris Meyers, said.