Local service office: 7210 82nd St., Lubbock
Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday
Phone: 806.775.7732 (answered 24/7)
Owned by those we serve.
This phrase describes South Plains Electric Cooperative, but may not be what comes to mind when you think about your electric cooperative. This Cooperative is more than the sum of its pieces and parts and a place where you pay your bill every month.
It’s people and it’s passion. And that’s something that hasn’t changed over the Cooperative’s nearly 80-year existence. It was people who pulled together to build a cooperative facility to distribute electrical power and light to their remote homes and farms—when no one else would. Other utilities said there was no profit in serving the outlying areas. The people living in darkness didn’t care about profits; they only wanted the service. So they built the service and they used it—and we are still using it today under the same service-minded, not-for-profit philosophy.
The same passion that built this Cooperative still pulses through the veins of its caretakers today. From the locally-elected board of directors leading the way, to the employees handling the day-to-day functions, to the members that believe in the cooperative business model, the goal remains: to deliver safe, reliable, electric service at the lowest possible cost while improving the quality of life in the communities we serve.
The success that South Plains Electric Cooperative —a tax-paying, locally-managed business—enjoys today pays tribute to the devoted farm families willing to attack their own problems at the grassroots some 75 years ago.
The lights were on in the cities, but darkness and manual labor plagued the countryside. The people asked for the power, but the for-profit utilities said no. This scenario created the best example of a public/private partnership. On May 11, 1935, President Roosevelt signed executive order 7037 establishing the Rural Electrification Administration (REA). This opened the door for rural dwellers to form their own electric systems based on a philosophy of “service rather than profit.”
As early as 1936, small groups of farm families started countywide efforts to electrify the South Plains. Grange chapters helped people organize and hastened the process.
South Plains Electric was born on the night of March 8, 1937, at such a Grange meeting, held in the junior high auditorium in Lubbock. Seventy persons were present. A temporary committee was appointed, serving until the Cooperative was incorporated.
The work began quickly. On April 27, 1937, engineer H.N. Roberts submitted the first application for an REA loan. It was a pledge from 1,081 Lubbock County farmers to take electric service at a time when 2,600 farms were without service. It would take 430 miles of electric lines to serve the 1,081 signers. Agriculture teachers, farm organizations and many individuals did the legwork to sign up memberships at $5 each.
REA had a limited amount of funds for the early applications. REA asked the committee to accept a partial allotment of $100,000 and, deciding that half a loaf is better than no loaf at all, they accepted. REA allotted the $100,000 on November 5, 1937, for 108 miles of line to serve 278 members.
A charter was granted by the State of Texas on November 27, 1937. The Cooperative was official! The mission and task had new meaning.
A basement room in the old Lubbock County Courthouse was obtained for an office. There were two paid employees.
SPEC has grown from these humble beginnings to a successful, tax-paying, not-for-profit business with $294 million in assets, 9,000 miles of line, 6,600 square miles of service area, 48,632 meters, 141 employees and—without one, single, solitary customer.
That’s right. The Cooperative doesn’t have any customers. Only members.
That’s a unique feature and advantage of a cooperative business. The first 278 people to receive service from the Cooperative were the early member-owners, and every day when a new service is connected, the Cooperative grows by another person—a member.
You may think of South Plains Electric as poles, wires and electricity, but the foundation of the Cooperative is comprised of people. Members, directors and employees are the heart of today’s Touchstone Energy Cooperative. They adhere to the values of integrity, accountability, innovation and commitment to the community.