San Patricio Electric Cooperative was incorporated under Texas Law.
It all started thanks to the pioneer spirit of C. A. Maedgen. He had electricity at his farm in Bell County, and wanted it installed at his home in Mathis too. But the local power company told him that his rural home was too far from the nearest line. So, he took matters into his own hands. He met with the County Agent to discuss a new government program, the Rural Electrification Administration, which was helping rural Americans get electricity. Together, the two gathered a group of influential men from the community and formed the cooperative. Each of the nine original incorporators had to pay a $5 membership fee to join. This fee gave the group $45 to get started. With that, they hired a secretary, bought office equipment and retained an engineer. Their next step was to get a charter from the state, which was obtained on November 5, 1938.
RUS Funding Makes Rural Electrification a Reality
SPEC's founding members applied for a low-interest loan from the Rural Electric Association to fund the construction of the first power lines. These nine men traveled around San Patricio, Bee and Live Oak Counties searching for other residents who were interested in receiving electric service. Most of the farmers approached were eager to get lights, and were willing to risk $5 on the chance that it would happen. They all wanted power but hadn’t been able to get it. In addition to the $5 membership fee, each had to agree to purchase power from the co-op after the lines were built. Everyone that signed up knew there would be a minimum bill of $2.50 each month.
After much correspondence, REA approved a loan to the cooperative on February 18, 1939. The loan provided SPEC with $195,000 to build 254 miles of line, which would serve 381 signed members.
SPEC Turns on the Lights by Christmas
The REA loan funds prompted fast development. The engineer staked lines and construction began right away. On December 24, 1939, SPEC energized its first power lines and provided light to 480 members.
World War II Pauses Co-op Growth
Expansion for our new cooperative was effectively stopped in 1941 when many cooperative linemen left to serve their county in World War II.
Area Coverage Reached
Once the war was over in 1945, SPEC could once again resume its expansion. At the time, there were more applicants for service than their were materials to build power lines. It took the cooperative another four years to achieve area coverage. By 1949 anyone in the area who wanted power from SPEC could have it.
SPEC Builds Sinton Office
In 1950, SPEC broke ground on its office building in Sinton. SPEC still operates out of the same building today, though it has undergone additions and renovations over the years.
SPEC Retires First Capital Credits
In 1956, SPEC retired its first capital credits, a total of $27,162.60 for the years 1950 and 1951.
South Texas Electric Cooperative is Formed
In 1963, SPEC was faced with the rising cost of purchasing electricity for its membership on the open market, it began looking for an alternative to keep electricity costs affordable. As a result, SPEC joined with five other area cooperatives to form a generation and transmission cooperative, South Texas Electric Cooperative. Instead of paying for power on the open market, SPEC could purchase electricity from power plants it partially owned. STEC still serves as our generation and transmission cooperative today, and we continue to have representation on the STEC Board of Directors.
Education Trust Established
In 1999 the San Patricio Electric Education Trust was established and the cooperative began giving our scholarships to area high school seniors. Since its inception, the Trust has awarded more than $1 million to local students.
SPEC Celebrates 80 Years of Service
In 2018 SPEC turned 80 years old!