Oak is one of the oldest trees on the planet and among the strongest types of wood. Its beauty, density and amazing strength make it a top choice of carpenters for building furniture and other projects requiring a dependable hardwood. From a single acorn it develops into a formidable symbol of strength, resistant to damage from the elements, and admired and respected for the shelter it provides.
Oak is also the suggested symbol for 80th anniversaries as it represents wisdom and longevity, able to withstand pressures faced over the years. Kansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc., — or KEC for short — celebrates in 2021 80 years of a deep commitment to serving Kansas electric cooperatives and our rural Kansas communities.
The Rural Electrification Act signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on May 20, 1936, jump-started the efforts to bring electricity to America’s countrysides, including the vast rural areas of Kansas. As Kansas electric cooperatives became operational, serving consumer-members in rural areas previously left in the dark, they soon realized they could accomplish more as a united force if they were to not only survive but thrive. Established on Aug. 18, 1941, KEC didn’t fully take root until the 1950s when it began representing the co-ops on regulatory and legislative issues and made headway in key issues such as rate stability and territorial protection.
Like the mighty oak, KEC grows with each passing year, strengthening business relationships and branching out, diversifying to meet the modern-day challenges of the industry and offering additional services essential to the interests of Kansas electric cooperatives.
Today, KEC provides extensive services to its member co-ops to meet the changing landscape of the electric utility industry:
- Legislative action programs at the state and national levels, including organization of the statewide Co-ops Vote initiative.
- Education and training for co-op staff and trustees.
- Safety training for lineworkers and co-op staff, and public safety awareness campaigns.
- Youth programs to engage the next generation in their communities and gain a better understanding and advantages of the cooperative business model.
Much of what KEC accomplishes on behalf of Kansas electric co-ops and their consumer-members is reported in the pages of Kansas Country Living. Your local electric co-op brings you the magazine each month to communicate issues affecting your ownership in your co-op while delivering additional content that reflects the uniqueness of Kansas and the rural way of life.
We will celebrate KEC’s 80th this year with historical photos in the magazine and throwback Thursdays on our social media channels. And I’m sure we’ll find a photo or two of an electric cooperative employee wearing a polyester leisure suit or Peter Pan collar blouse. While it’s important to reflect on our history and commemorate our 80th anniversary, planting seeds for the future is KEC’s main focus.
No matter the decade, KEC will continue working for the mutual benefit of its members to promote rural electrification and foster the principles on which electric cooperatives were founded.
Lee Tafanelli is Chief Executive Officer of Kansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. in Topeka.