Magic Valley Electric Cooperative celebrated 80 years in South Texas during festivities at its headquarters in Mercedes.
Founded in 1937 by a group of Rio Grande Valley farmers and ranchers to bring electricity to rural South Texas, one year after the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 was enacted during the administration of President Franklin Roosevelt. It provided federal loans for the installation of electrical distribution systems to serve isolated rural areas of the United States, as well as a jobs program to deal with high unemployment during the Great Depression.
Under that program, a loan of $200,000 was the beginning of Magic Valley. Cooperatives are independent, private and not-for-profit organizations owned by the members they serve. With 270 employees, Magic Valley is overseen by a seven-member board of directors, General Manager John Herrera said.
Today Magic Valley serves some 97,000 co-op members spread out over 2,600 square miles. The cooperative recorded sales of 2.2 billion kilowatt hours in 2016, said Herrera, who has been with Magic Valley for 20 years.
The 80th anniversary celebration featured remarks by Herrera, Board President Dr. Martin Garcia and other dignitaries from chambers of commerce and other business organizations.
Magaly Torres, an assistant to State Rep. Armando Martinez, presented a proclamation recognizing the long history of Magic Valley in South Texas.
Herrera said Magic Valley has always strived to stay abreast of technological advances to provide the best possible service. In 1945 Magic Valley installed two-way radio systems in company service trucks, making it the first coop in Texas and the second in the nation to use what then was new technology.
Today, Magic Valley is at the forefront or working with members who want to use solar and wind to generate some of their electricity.