On May 11, 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed an executive order establishing the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) as part of his “New Deal” emergency relief program. Designed to bring electricity to the rural areas of America, the REA also became a lending agency to help finance such projects.
The town of Bartlett had electric service by 1905. However, farms in the surrounding rural areas were not supplied with electricity until 30 years later. In 1935, the REA loaned $33,000 to Bartlett Community Light & Power Company. Later known as Bartlett Electric Cooperative, the BCL &P built a 59 mile power line to serve the rural areas surrounding Bartlett. The first section of line, which served 110 farm homes, became operative in March 1936. Power was provided by the city’s municipal light plant, which had been built two years earlier. As the first REA project in Texas and the first in the nation to be energized under an REA loan, Bartlett Electric Cooperative played an important role in the modernization of the rural farms served by the Cooperative.
Today, the Cooperative now has over 9,000 Members and 12,000 meters served by over 1,700 miles of line. The Cooperative Board of Directors consists of nine representatives elected from various districts of the system by the Members. Bartlett Electric Cooperative employs 38 personnel to serve its Members. The Cooperative serves areas of Bell, Burleson, Milam and Williamson counties in Central Texas.
Bartlett Electric Cooperative receives its power from Brazos Electric Power Cooperative, which was the first cooperative powered in the state of Texas for the purpose of supplying electrical power. Brazos Electric is also the largest generation and transmission cooperative in the state of Texas, supplying electricity to 16 member distribution cooperatives and one municipal system.