In the 1930s, electric service was sweeping across the nation's cities. But farms and small rural areas were largely ignored. Investor-owned utilities didn't see any profit in delivering power to small towns and farms. Most of the nation's farms were left without power.
In 1936, Kenneth Summers was manager at a farmer's co-op, the Lenore Grain and Seed Grower's Company. The machines, needed to process the grain seed, needed electricity but the nearest power line was many miles away.
Despite repeated requests to the local electric utility, no reasonable agreement could be reached. Mr. Summers, along with R.H. Wallace of Lapwai and L.P. Teats of Reubens, wrote to the newly-formed Federal Rural Electrification Administration (REA), for support in forming their own, member-owned electric cooperative. By April of 1937, Clearwater Valley Light and Power was born.
Over the following decades, they did what they set out to do - bring needed electricity from distant points to their neighbors and friends, to places where nobody else wanted to go - or would go. Bringing electrical power to the 10,000 homes and businesses stretching from St. Maries, Idaho to Troy, Oregon; and from Garfield, Washington to Weippe, Idaho; was like most movements - hard fought and slow in coming. Putting in over 2,800 miles of line over some of the nation's most rugged terrain, on behalf of sometimes only 3 customers per mile of expensive line, was hard and took a commitment only a neighbor-owned cooperative was willing to provide. Then as now, whenever and wherever there are power outages, the linemen brave the distance and bad weather to restore service. That cooperative spirit lives on in the member-owned Clearwater Power Company. That determination, that neighbor helping neighbor attitude, combined with the hard work, professionalism, diligence, and care that built this region, also built Clearwater Power Company and the electrical system that serves its members.
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Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives is a national network of electric cooperatives across 46 states that provides resources and leverages partnerships to help member cooperatives and their employees better engage and serve their members. By working together, Touchstone Energy cooperatives stand as a source of power and information to their 32 million member-owners every day.