In 1940, concerned citizens and farmers met to discuss the ways and means of providing electricity to the rural sections of Monroe, Blount and Loudon Counties. Initially, the Loudon County Electric Membership Corporation was formed. In August of 1940, the Board of Directors approved the Articles of Conversion and the Loudon County Electric Membership Corporation became Fort Loudoun Electric Cooperative (FLEC), with its main office in Madisonville, TN. Operations of the cooperative began in September of 1940.
In the middle of the 1930's, nine out of ten rural farms were without electric service. Municipal power companies served most of the cities and some farms close to the cities. Property along the main highway had electricity, but most farms could not afford it. Rural customers were required to pay for connecting electricity and the price ranged from $2,000 to $3,000 per mile of line. In addition to the connection fee, the cost per a kWh ranged from ten to twelve cents per kWh. In some places the costs were as high as twenty-five to forty cents per kWh. There were very few rural families who could afford this in the years when wheat sold for eighty cents a bushel and the gross farm income averaged around $1,800 a year.
The creation of the Rural Utilities Service (an agency of USDA, formerly known as the Rural Electrification Administration) made possible the formation of FLEC and similar electric co-ops throughout the United States. Federal funds were loaned to FLEC to extend electric service to its consumer-members. The establishment of TVA in our region in 1933 made low-cost electricity available to FLEC and other power distributors in this area.
Fort Loudoun Electric Cooperative (FLEC) serves portions of a three-county area including Blount, Loudon, and Monroe counties. The cooperative is a private, non-profit organization that is owned by the members it serves. The service area of FLEC is divided into eight districts and a director is elected from each district every three years. The cooperative's main office is located in Vonore today.
Fort Loudoun Electric Cooperative has grown far beyond the most optimistic early planning of its early members. Currently, FLEC serves approximately 35,500 customers with its over 3,400 miles of distribution lines. FLEC is growing with the area and as a result it has become a thriving, dynamic organization that is a very vital part of the communities it serves.