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Rural Electrification of America powers Bulloch Co.
Bulloch History
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Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at places and events of interest in Bulloch County history.


Part one: In this, the 21st Century, "electricity" has become an integral part of virtually every aspect of everyone's daily life.  At home, few if any of our household devices will even work without being plugged in and then switched on. However, it wasn't that long ago that most of rural America was still dependent upon manual or battery power for whatever of these new-fangled conveniences they were lucky enough to possess. Then came the new "REA," and the electrification of America.

This "Rural Electrification of America" became the watchword of the mid 1930s. 

In 1935, President Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order creating the Rural Electric Administration at his summer White House in Warm Springs, Georgia.

Roosevelt had been shocked by the lack of electrification across rural Georgia, and was dismayed at the cost of electric services when they were available, especially when compared with the cost and availability of such services in the Hyde Park, New York area of his family estate.

The Rural Electrification Act of 1936 loaned money to rural electric cooperatives, public utilities and private power companies to encourage the provision of low-cost power to rural, and especially remote, areas of the United States.

In Georgia that meant establishing Electric Membership Corporations, headed by locals who provided their communities with electric power. It wasn't until a 1939 edition that the Bulloch Herald could report that the first of these "electric wires" had even been strung in the county.

A new company had been formed to tackle this daunting project: the Excelsior Electric Membership Cooperative, located in Metter. The company officers were President J.R. Vaugh, Vice President J. Floyd Nevils, Secretary KJ. Arthur Floyd,and project supervisor Cleo E. Mills.

Almost immediately, 1.130 residents signed up to be connected to the new service. The company announced plans for the stringing 250 miles of line with another 150 miles of more line to be strung after that. The newspaper article informed the paper's readers that the new power lines ran from the first EEMC "sub-station" near Mrs. A.E. Brannen's home all the way to Highway 46 over near Pine Lodge.

According to the newspaper, some 150 miles of "right-of way" had been cleared for the erection of the poles and lines, and hardware had been placed on some 125 miles of poles.

The electric contractor hired to do the job, Julian Tillman, had sent out a crew of six linemen and four helpers to erect the new Excelsior Electric Membership Cooperative's rudimentary power grid. The first phase of the project consisted of 291 miles of lines to be erected at a cost of some $290,000.

Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at rwasr1953@gmail.com.

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