Our history is as rich as our commitment is deep. We began as a mere idea and have grown into the third largest utility in Minnesota.Take a trip down memory lane.
Idea of a rural electric cooperative and Rural Electrification Administration (REA) formed.
P.I.C.K. Electrical Cooperative is incorporated (present day ECE).
Head of the Lakes Cooperative Electric Association incorporated by the state of Wisconsin.
PICK and four other neighboring electric associations help to organize the Rural Cooperative Power Association. Construction planned for a combination office, garage, and warehouse for PICK.
North Pine Electric Cooperative incorporated.
PICK Electric joins the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
Self-billing by the member saves materials, labor, and time for the duration of World War II.
PICK changes name to East Central Electric Association.
"Million dollar business" reported at ECE's Annual Meeting.
The first Capital Credits notices mailed to members.
ECE acquires additional electric facilities through the merger with WACK electric facilities in the Mora area.
Rural Cooperative Power Association signs contract with the Atomic Energy Commission to build a nuclear reactor in Elk River.
ECE has 2,800 miles of line serving 12,500 members. The first Capital Credits for 1938 and 1939 paid out at the ECE Annual Meeting.
REA announces loan to UPA to build lignite coal fired power plant and transmission facilities at Stanton, ND
Elk River Nuclear Reactor goes online. ECE moves into a new headquarters building at the north end of Braham.
The Elk River Nuclear Reactor is dismantled.
Northern Minnesota Power Association, Rural Cooperative Association, and United Power Association merge to form new United Power Association.
UPA of Elk River and CPA of Minneapolis announce plans to build Coal Creek Station, a coal fired generating plant near Underwood, ND.
ECE begins experimental load management program.
General Manager Jerome Haider retires after 15 years. Garry Bye is named President/CEO.
50th Anniversary of ECE.
A new Operations Center is constructed northwest of present ECE headquarters building.
ECE and North Pine Electric merge to serve over 36,000 members on more than 6,000 miles of line. United Power Association (UPA) and Cooperative Power merge and form Great River Energy.
ECE becomes a Touchstone Energy® Partner. ECE launches ECENet. Operation Round-Up is introduced to continue ECE's community involvement.
ECE begins construction of a $2.4 million customer service response center addition at our headquarters in Braham.
By a vote of 10 to 1 by the membership, East Central Electric becomes East Central Energy.
Members of ECE and Head of the Lakes Electric Cooperative approve merger vote. The combined cooperatives serve over 50,000 homes and business on more than 7,500 miles of line.
Merger with Head of the Lakes Electric Cooperative effective January 2003.
ECE operations employees build the Langola Substation in Minnesota to serve the Rice and Royalton areas.
Joined with three other Minnesota cooperatives to form Northland Connect Broadband, LLC to offer WildBlue Satellite high-speed Internet. First tenant in St. Cloud Airport Business Park, owned by ECE.
ECE/HLEC plan of merger completed with the downsizing of the board of directors to 12 members.
ECE honored with Global Partner Award from NRECA International Foundation for its work in Pignon, Haiti. The Operation Round Up Trust surpassed the $1 million mark in donations to the communities served by ECE.
President/CEO Garry Bye retired with 25 years of service. Steve Shurts became new President/CEO.
ECE celebrated a major milestone: 75 years of providing reliable energy.
ECE celebrated the International Year of the Cooperatives. ECE employees and contractors rebuild a substation near Gilman, MN.
Northland Connect Broadband reorganizes leaving ECENet, LLC with a 44.44% ownership.
Solar array constructed at ECE Braham headquarters. ECE introduced SmartHub, a new digital tool for members.
ECE began system-wide meter upgrade. ECE subsidiary COMO Oil and Propane sold to Thompson Gas, LLC. First electric vehicle (EV) charging station installed by ECE at Cambridge Medical Center. SmartTrack® implemented for smoother scheduling and job coordination with line crews.
Superior, WI, service center changes to operations facility.
ECE installs a 240-Volt electric vehicle charging station for use by visitors and the public at Braham Headquarters
ECE purchases first electric vehicle (EV), a 2018 Chevy Bolt.
A two-megawatt solar array is installed on 15 acres in Cambridge, MN. ECE also purchases the co-op’s first drone and two employees become certified to operate.
March 16, 2020: The spreading COVID-19 pandemic closes ECE lobbies, and most employees begin working from home.
July 2020: President/CEO Steve Shurts retired with 10 years of service. Justin Jahnz became new President/CEO.
President/CEO Justin Jahnz appeared before House of Representatives’ Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee in Washington, D.C. to discuss monarch conservation practices. ECE sold its portion of Milaca Local Link and also began offering a texting option for members to easily report an outage. A new 3-MW solar array broke ground at Grand Casino Hinckley. ECE’s power supplier, Great River Energy, approved the sale of the 1,151-megawatt power plant, Coal Creek Station.
President/CEO Justin Jahnz testified in a Senate committee hearing to reduce the cost of replacing load control receivers. ECE was recognized for its 18th year as a Tree Line USA Utility. ECE’s first Environmental, Social, and Governance report was created. ECE experienced its most impactful summer storm since 2011 with over 11,000 members without power. The co-op celebrated National Pollinator Week with its first “Pollineighbor Party.” On December 8, ECE was awarded three broadband grants totaling nearly $15 million. The most impactful major outage event in ten years occurred December14-17, with 12,284 affected at its. On December 15, the North Branch Water & Light territory transfer to ECE was unanimously approved. Effective December 31, ECE no longer offered internet through Northland Connect Broadband.