History and Timeline
Most of us find it hard to imagine a life without the internet, mobile phones, computers, or even microwaves. We take for granted that every time we flip a switch, we’ll have instant power. But it wasn’t all that long ago that a lamp, a refrigerator or a pump out in the barn was only a dream for many living in our rural areas. Follow the timeline below to learn the history of not just Northeastern REMC, but how electricity got it's start in Indiana.
The History of Northeastern REMC
In 1930, only 10% of the 6.8 million farms across the U.S. had power. In fact, well into the 1930's, households used large blocks of ice to keep food cold in "iceboxes" instead of refrigerators.
(Photo credit: americanhistory.si.edu)
In 1933, Indiana farmer, Harvey Hull, and others traveled through Norway and Sweden, and learned that 65% of rural areas were electrified through a group of electric cooperatives. Consumers owned their electric lines by obtaining government financing for long-term, low interest loans. Hull returned to Indiana believing that this model would work in America and would bring much needed electricity to the rural areas. Hull began to draft legislation which allowed for the formation of the REMCs across the Hoosier state. On March 9, 1935, Indiana REMC Act was signed into law. This was the first of its kind in the country.
Shortly after, President Roosevelt saw the solution of adding rural electric power across the country as as an opportunity to create new jobs and stimulate manufacturing. This was the beginning of rural electrification in America.
In June, 1935, Whitley County held its first organized meeting to begin forming a rural electric cooperative. During this initial meeting, eight men formed a corporation known as the Whitley County Rural Electric Membership Corporation.
By January 1, 1936, 150 volunteers had canvassed the area and had secured nearly 1,000 applications for membership to this new energy organization. The membership fee was $5 – a sizable investment for many households in the 1930’s.
On September 26, 1936, Whitley County REMC received it's first loan approval from the Rural Electrification Administration of $416k to fund 383 miles of rural power lines.
By early November 1936, close to 400 poles had been set in Whitley County.
The very first Whitley County REMC office was located in downtown Columbia City on the second floor of what is now Hinen Printing.
Jefferson Center School became the first Whitley County REMC powered facility on January 4, 1937. but it was ten more months before electricity began flowing to residential members.
By October 1937, the entire system had electricity, powering all 1200 members.
On Feb. 22, 1939 a construction contract was signed to set about 55 miles of line to serve more than 158 customers in Northwest Allen County. The number of members in both Whitley and western Allen County continued to grow steadily over the years that followed and continues to grow today.
In the 40's, the company was growing which led them to our next location where Brewha is currently located in downtown Columbia City.
During the 50's, Whitley County REMC moved to the corner where People's Federal Savings Bank is now located.
Whitley County REMC later built a new office building on Line Street
Another move led REMC to Gateway Industrial Park where we remained for more than three decades. This move offered more space to host trucks, linemen and office workers all under one roof. This office was dedicated on June 15, 1966.
In 1986, with nearly 13,000 members across 1,386 miles of line, Whitley County REMC changed its name to Northeastern REMC to more accurately reflect its expanding system in Allen County. This change brought a temporary logo featuring a lightening bolt.
With a new name, Northeastern REMC needed a new logo. The boxed letter "N" would be the logo of Northeastern until the mid-90's.
Northeastern partners with Touchstone Energy Cooperative, a nationwide alliance of over 750 locally owned and operated electric cooperatives across 46 states, whose goal is to achieve outstanding member satisfaction utilizing innovative partnerships, resources and services thus helping member cooperatives and their employees better engage and serve their members.
A new logo was created to incorporate this partnership.
On May 7, 2004, Northeastern REMC opened their brand new headquarters in Park 30 Business Center located off U.S. 30 in Columbia City. This new facility included plenty of inside warehouse space, room for all of the NREMC trucks to be indoors and enough office space for all employees to be under one roof. This is the current home of Northeastern REMC.
Electric cooperative linemen were honored by the U.S. Senate in a resolution passed April 16 designating April 18, 2013, as National Lineman Appreciation Day. Since then, National Lineman Appreciation Day is celebrated on the second Monday of April.
Northeastern REMC now provides electric services to more than 33,000 members, on more than 2200 miles of line, in six northeast Indiana counties. As was the case in 1936, members can still expect their electric cooperative to do whatever is necessary to make electricity available where and when it is needed.