In the early 1930s, most of rural America was in the dark. Power suppliers did not expand their lines to reach the people living outside city limits causing many to live in unhealthy conditions. The lack of electricity negatively affected agriculture by stifling the progress of many farmers and ranchers. On May 11, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order that created the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) which provided low-cost federal loans to non-profit cooperatives to supply power to Rural America. During the time of the Great Depression, the REA was designed to stimulate the economy. On May 20, 1936, Congress committed to provide long-term funding for rural electrification by passing the Rural Electrification Act.
A group of Rio Grande Valley farmers and ranchers who needed electricity for their farms and ranches came together to acquire a loan from the REA in 1937. The REA approved their loan for $200,000 and the farmers soon began construction of 75 miles of power lines for the Valley REA, which later changed to Magic Valley Electric Cooperative. Eleven months later, the lights turned on in the homes of Magic Valley’s first 125 members. Magic Valley’s founding members not only changed the Valley for the betterment of thousands of residents, it also accelerated progress to remote and unpopulated areas of the Rio Grande Valley. Today, Magic Valley has over 4,800 miles of energized line serving more than 90,000 members. It is headquartered in Mercedes, TX and is the 3rd largest cooperative in Texas and the 22nd largest in the nation.
Magic Valley is an independent, private and not-for-profit cooperative owned by the members they serve. Cooperatives such as Magic Valley are rooted in the Seven Cooperative Principles first established by the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in 1814 and adheres to the following: Voluntary and Open Membership, Democratic Member Control, Members’ Economic Participation, Autonomy and Independence, Education, Training and Information, Cooperation Among Cooperatives and Concern for Community.