There are many who can recall a time in rural South Carolina when light came from smoky kerosene lamps, and winter cold was kept at bay by burning coal. Most cities and towns had electric power 50 years ago, but the investor owned utilities refused to string their line in rural areas of the state. They said it would be a financial burden to serve these areas and so many of them including much of Marlboro County, went without electricity until Congress passed the Rural Electrification Act in 1935.

The REA promoted the formation of community-based cooperatives and lent money to these co-ops to pay for the poles and line that would bring electricity to the countryside.

It is difficult to pinpoint a single event that led to the formation of the MEC. But it just may have been the challenge issued by Senator Burnette R. Maybank at the ladies Home Demonstration Clubs meeting in the spring of 1939. The feisty politician told those in attendance that if they didn't have REA lights in their homes it would be their own fault! His advice to the ladies in attendance. . . go home and contact your county agent.

Well, Mrs. W. F. Rogers did just that then County Agent W.W. Wood asked her to serve as Vice-President of the Rural Electrification Administration in Marlboro County. What Mrs. Rogers did not know is that many of the local farmers had also been calling the agent about forming an electric cooperative. They worked tirelessly over the next couple of months to get rights-of-way and sign up members for the new electric cooperative.

  • December 1939 MEC held its first meeting in Bennettsville. H.K. Covington was elected President and Mrs. Rogers was asked to serve as Vice- President. 9 Board Members were selected and J.K. Owens of Bennettsville was named attorney for the cooperative.
  • January 1940, the co-op approved its by-laws and decided to borrow money from the REA for the construction and operation of the electric distribution lines to the co-op's 389 members. Later that year, another REA loan was secured to wire homes and install plumbing.
  • September 3, 1940 the newly constructed lines were energized and Mrs. Rogers pulled the switch which brought electricity to rural Marlboro County
  • 1942 Marlboro joined the NRECA.
  • 1943, E.W. Miller, who had supervised the construction of the new electric cooperative, became its first manager and we 1,500 customers!
  • 1949, MEC joined with the other South Carolina co-ops to form the Central Electric Power Cooperative. The new agency built a transmission system between member cooperatives and the Santee Cooper Dam, for the distribution of dependable, low-cost power.
  • 1950, a two-way radio communication system was set up so that linemen could be dispatched more quickly This innovation improved service tremendously and made it easier for linemen to repair damage done by Hurricane Hazel in November 1954 and the devastating tornado that swept through Marlboro County in 1984.
  • 1983, Load Management switches were installed on consumers' water heaters and air conditioners to help control usage during times of peak demand.