Why Were Cooperatives Formed?
By the mid-1930s, almost every urban area in the United States had electric service. In rural areas, only 10 percent of people had electricity, and investor-owned utilities could not justify building miles of line to service only a few consumers. Today, Ohio’s electric cooperatives serve nearly 380,000 homes and businesses in Ohio, and there are nearly 900 rural electric cooperatives across the nation serving 42 million consumer-members.
In 1936, a group of farmers in Licking and Knox counties decided to take advantage of a federal program offered by the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) by forming an electric cooperative known as Licking Rural Electrification (LRE). At inception, five people were employed to service 410 members and 143 miles of electric line. The George Conrad Farm on Smoketown Road was the first member-owner energized. For 40 years, the office was located one mile south of Utica, Ohio, on State Route 13 and was built in 1959. In 1998, LRE moved the headquarters to Newark, Ohio.
In October of 1998, Licking Rural Electrification, Inc. acquired National Gas & Oil Company and its subsidiaries, National Gas & Oil Corp., Producers Gas Sales, NGO Development Corp., NGO Transmission, Inc., and NGO Propane. The Energy Cooperative is the trade name used by LRE and its subsidiaries, which operate as separate corporations.