The cooperative was formed during the Great Depression. During this time in our Country’s history the rural farms had little electricity available to them. Large investor owned power companies did not provide power beyond the town boundaries. The large utilities could not imagine rural farms using enough electricity to pay for the construction cost to provide service to the wide open areas across the country. With investment dollars limited by the depression farm families and utilities could not raise the capital to build the electric facilities needed to serve the farms.
In the early 1930’s President Roosevelt started a series of programs to stimulate the economy. One of these programs was the Rural Electrification Administration or REA. This program would provide needed capital to utilities to bring electric power service to the rural farms. The program was first offered to the large utilities. Again, the big investor utilities said no believing that rural users of electricity could not provide enough profits to repay the government loans. The original loans were for 2% interest. During the depression this was still a very competitive interest rate. The difference was the availability of the money. What happened next was classic American willpower. Farmers and other rural residents got together and formed their own utilities. They used the cooperative model that had been successful in other areas and began serving customers in 1935 and 1936.
Paulding Putnam was formed in 1936. The board of trustees approved the original Code of Regulations on June 19, 1936. The membership of the cooperative approved the Code at the cooperative’s annual meeting held on March 31, 1938. The original aim of the cooperative was a simple one: “To make electric energy available to its members at the lowest cost consistent with sound economy and good management”. That simple principal still guides us today.
In the past 70 plus years the cooperative has grown and changed in many ways. The cooperative now serves over 12,900 homes and businesses. Paulding Putnam serves in both Ohio and Indiana. The cooperative employs 34 people at two offices. The main office is located in Paulding, Ohio. A district office is located in Columbus Grove, Ohio and serves most of the Putnam county area.
The cooperative is part of two main organizations. First is the Ohio statewide cooperative group and its power supplier Buckeye Power. The second is the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Through these two groups the cooperative receives many services ranging from power supply, safety, and employee training to pension and retirement investment plans. The National group provides a continued Washington D.C. presence for the cooperatives. Paulding Putnam is one of 25 Ohio cooperatives and one of over 900 electric cooperatives nationwide.
Paulding Putnam Electric Cooperative is here today to provide quality electric service to its members in Ohio and Indiana. The mission of the co-op has not changed in over 70 years. Through the direction of the locally elected 9 member board of directors the membership is provided hands on control of the future of their cooperative.