ABOUT OAKDALE ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE
BY THE NUMBERS
About Oakdale Electric Cooperative
Oakdale Electric Cooperative provides reliable and affordable electricity, and related energy services to residential, business and farm members in most of Monroe and Juneau Counties, plus portions of Jackson, Sauk, and Wood Counties. As a Touchstone Energy Partner, Oakdale Electric Cooperative prides itself in the personal service it offers to about 14,450 members. Please use our website to find valuable information regarding our services and learn how to be a member at Oakdale Electric Cooperative.
Oakdale Electric Cooperative Facts
Company Facts as of 2022:
- Serving most of Monroe and Juneau counties, parts of Jackson, Sauk, and Wood counties.
- 39 full time employees
- 18,528 meters in place
- 2,798 miles of overhead & underground distribution lines
- 6.62 meters per mile of electrical line
- 5.16 members per mile of electrical line
- 18 electrical substations
- Articles of incorporation – April 24, 1936
- Energized – July 14, 1937
Oakdale Electric Cooperative is dedicated to providing our members with safe, reliable, superior, and competitively priced energy services.
Oakdale Electric Cooperative strives to enhance the quality of life for our members, while exceeding member expectations.
- Environmental stewardship
- Open, honest communication
- Commitment to members, community, and employees
The Story Begins Here – Oakdale Electric Cooperative’s History
The history of the Oakdale Electric Cooperative cannot be dug out of official minutes, files, or memories without first trespassing upon the history of rural electrification in Wisconsin. It is known, of course, that the machinery of state and federal governments was first put into gear in Washington and Madison, but the very core of the rural electrification program in Wisconsin took shape in the Oakdale Community Club hall on October 19, 1935. Only a week longer than five months had elapsed since the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) was created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, on May 11, 1935. This action recognized that support was needed to help rural areas become electrified. But it was the self-sufficient, enterprising residents of rural areas who worked together - many by the sweat of their brows - to form cooperatives and bring electricity to their homes, schools, churches, farms and businesses.
On April 24, 1936, the Oakdale Electric cooperative was organized and incorporated, with W. E. Rabe, R. E. Dunlap, F. E. Kuckuck, F. W. Habelman, O. O. Humboldt, and J. A. Gabower signing the Articles of Incorporation. Only a handful of farmers had signed into membership on the date of the organization meeting, but there were enough to constitute a quorum and elect a board of directors. The Oakdale Electric Cooperative was born and in the space of a few hours had become a legal entity under the cooperative laws of Wisconsin.
Oakdale Electric Cooperative has come a long way since 1937 when the cooperative's power lines were energized 48 miles of line on July 14, 1937 to light up the landscapes of our beautiful rural central Wisconsin counties. Life in the days before the late 1930's was dark and filled with manual labor from dawn to dusk for rural folks. While electricity had come to many towns and cities, it remained elusive in more distant areas because existing utilities found it unprofitable to bring it to rural areas. By the end of 1938, Oakdale Electric Cooperative was serving 221 members.
How people formed their cooperatives and brought electricity to rural areas is one of the nation's greatest examples of economic democracy. Men and women petitioned, educated and organized to bring power to their communities. They drew lines on rough paper maps. They secured signatures for sign-ups. They obtained pledges of land for the paths of the lines so the cooperative could build power lines to serve them and their neighbors. Line crews, often aided by eager members in the community, cleared rights-of-way and dug holes, while others followed with poles and hardware. Last came the crews to hang the line.
Today, our cooperative still provides essential power to a growing five county area. While the cooperative has progressed and continues to prepare for the future, Oakdale Electric Cooperative remains committed today to the same principles upon which cooperatives were founded. Owned by the members we serve, we are a local business formed to provide affordable access to electricity. We return any margins in the form of capital credits to our members, and the cooperative is governed by a board of directors elected by the membership. And while the primary purpose of the cooperative is to provide affordable electricity, our greater, guiding purpose is to contribute to the communities we serve. That's the higher calling of an electric cooperative like Oakdale Electric Cooperative. And that's why we're proud to be a part of all the communities we serve.
Electric cooperatives were established to provide electric service to primarily rural areas where investor-owned utilities were unwilling to serve, or where electricity was so highly priced, most residents could not afford it.
During the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt created the REA Act which was incorporated into the New Deal to stimulate growth in our dying country. The REA Act encouraged co-ops to be formed and brought power to rural America. In doing so, co-ops encouraged economic development and the quality of life for many Americans. This led to the creation of the National Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) which provides help to electric cooperatives all across the nation.
A cooperative is a very specific business model. “A Cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically-controlled enterprise” (Source, Coop, https://www.ica.coop/en/cooperatives/what-is-a-cooperative).
By providing safe, affordable and reliable power, many cooperatives are significant economic drivers within the local communities.
Electric Cooperatives are:
- Not-for-profit businesses
- Governed by a board of directors elected by the membership which sets policies and procedures that are implemented by the cooperatives’ management
- Follow the 7 Cooperative Principles [external video]
Voluntary And Open Membership
Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.
Democratic Member Control
Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. The elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary cooperatives, members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and cooperatives at other levels are organized in a democratic manner.
Members’ Economic Participation
Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing the cooperative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
Autonomy And Independence
Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.
Education, Training, And Information
Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public, particularly young people and opinion leaders, about the nature and benefits of cooperation.
Cooperation Among Cooperatives
Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
Concern For Community
While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members.