In the early 1900s electricity started making its way into large urban areas but by 1925 only half of American homes and businesses were electrified. More progress was made in the 1930s but with the Great Depression going on, nine out of ten rural residents were still left in the dark. The private power companies did not consider it profitable to provide electricity to the more back-country areas of the United States, choosing instead to focus on urban areas.
The idea of providing federal assistance to accomplish rural electrification gained ground rapidly when President Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected in 1933. By 1936, the Rural Electrification Act was passed and the lending program, known as Rural Electrification Association or REA, officially got underway. By 1937, the REA drafted the Electric Cooperative Corporation Act, a model law that states could adopt to enable the formation and operation of not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives.
By July 19, 1941, the first meeting was held in Clinton, NY to start proceedings for the present cooperative and on May 5, 1942, the Oneida-Madison Electric Cooperative was born. Servicing the townships of Nelson, Fenner, Smithfield, Marshall, Hamilton, Eaton, Lebanon, Kirkland, Madison and Brookfield across Oneida and Madison counties, Oneida-Madison Electric Cooperative established 32 miles of service line with 466 members. As of April 2022, our Cooperative now has 264 miles of service line with 2,088 meters in place.
Nationwide, there are over 900 rural electric cooperatives operating today, while Oneida-Madison is just one of four in New York State. Each one is a locally-owned business enterprise, incorporated under the laws of the state in which it operates. Consumers who receive service are members and share the responsibility for making it a success.
Oneida-Madison Electric Cooperative is unique from other power companies because each member has an opportunity to attend the Annual Meeting and cast a vote in the election of the Board of Directors and any other business that may come before the membership and each member receives ownership equity in the system in the form of capital credits, which are cash repayments to members on a rotating cycle.
Our Cooperative is governed by a 7-member Board of Directors that meets on the last Tuesday of every month. All of our board members reside within OMEC's service area, ensuring that the changes made to the Cooperative effect not only our members, but the Board as well, keeping the interests of ALL members as the number one priority. We are currently located at 6630 State Route 20 in Bouckville, NY. We have 8 full-time employees, including our CEO and Manager, Brian Bell, a 22 year veteran of Oneida-Madison Electric Cooperative.
After 80 years of business, our mission remains the same: to provide affordable, reliable electricity to residents in rural areas across Madison and Oneida counties.