About our Cooperative
The first cooperative principle is voluntary and open membership. This was a driving factor in western Kentucky in 1936 and 1937 when neighbors and friends decided to work together to form Henderson Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation. Spurred by the need for electricity to improve the rural life style and economic benefits, these people voluntarily joined together to be better able to reach their dreams of electricity in their rural homes, farms and businesses. Soon, many people in western Kentucky and other parts of Kentucky and across the entire country were forming cooperative organizations to reach this same dream.
Once established with an infrastructure of wires, poles, transformers, meters, and members consuming electricity, the local cooperatives were viable economic business organizations facing the prospect of significant growth in numbers of members and their increasing appetite for electricity. To meet long-term power supply concerns, it only took a few years to see one of the next cooperatives to be formed. In 1961, three cooperatives, Henderson-Union RECC, headquartered in Henderson, Green River RECC, headquartered in Owensboro, and Meade County RECC, headquartered in Brandenburg, created Big Rivers Electric Corporation. Today the three member-owners of Big Rivers serve more than 116,000 members in 22 counties.
Big Rivers owns and operates 1,444 net MW of generating capacity from four power stations: Robert D. Green (454 MW), Robert A. Reid (130 MW), D.B. Wilson (417 MW), and Kenneth C. Coleman (443 MW, idled in May 2014). Total power capacity is 1,819 MW, including rights to Henderson Municipal Power and Light’s (HMP&L) Station Two (scheduled to be retired in 2019) and contracted capacity from the Southeastern Power Administration (SEPA).
Big Rivers owns, operates and maintains its 1,299-mile transmission system and provides for transmission of power to its members as well as third-party entities served under the Open Access Transmission Tariff.
One of the strengths of the electric cooperative program is imbedded in the cooperative principle of cooperation among cooperatives. Throughout the nearly 70 years of electric cooperatives, the application of this principle has continued to deliver positive results. Through the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives, the commonwealth's cooperatives have worked together for more than 60 years to bring economies and synergies of scale in legislative efforts, training programs, and power line supplies. The same is true of NRECA, the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corp., the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative, and the Federated Rural Electric Insurance Exchange to name a few.
Big Rivers and its member-owners have found that working together better serves the members at each of their cooperatives. These efforts have resulted in sharing information technology, safety programs, substation inspections, compliance matters and economic development. Big Rivers and its member-owners have consistently found that working together on these and other matters have reduced costs and added value for more than 116,000 members. Other possible shared service projects are being studied.