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Powering together for 85 years

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On January 13, 1936, P.I.C.K. Electric, what we now know as East Central Energy, was established by dedicated, hard-working rural families.

The idea of forming an electric cooperative began six months earlier with a letter to the editor from Beauford Johnson, who later became our first general manager. Together these farmers brought power to their farmsteads by combining their meager resources. Members, as they were called, literally owned the electric company—which is still true today. 

Initially, the co-op’s distribution system stretched just 80 miles from a single substation in Braham and served 236 members. Now our lines span across more than 8,000 miles to over 62,000 members throughout east central Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. 

Most people today cannot fathom life without electricity. When we look back on the last 85 years, we’re reminded of the sacrifices of those who came before us. As their successors, everyone at ECE remains committed to building strong member relationships based on integrity, trust, and open communication. 

The challenges of each decade have been met with a focus on the seven cooperative principles. With a mindset of continued learning, we still aim to be a positive force in each community we serve. 

This cooperative was created by members working collectively, and every day we’re reminded that “together” remains the key to our success. Due to the pandemic, we may seem more separate than ever, but the strength of our membership will continue to see us through. 

Check out a timeline of co-op events!

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