Small Business Spotlight

Northfork Electric Cooperative

The first start toward organization of Northfork Electric Cooperative began at the Doxey School sometime during the early fall of 1937. At the Doxey meeting, the first steps were taken to survey proposed territory. The County Agent provided the survey forms and organized many of the educational meetings.
A temporary chairman was elected, and community leaders called the meetings in communities where there was sufficient interest. REA required two members per mile to be signed up on not less than 150 miles of line. It was late in the winter of 1938 before the survey had been completed to the point where Ingram- Jones, the preliminary engineering firm for the project, felt justified in having permanent organization. Project A was fully approved and on Christmas Day of 1939, the Northfork Rural Electrification project turned on the lights for the first nine miles of the project, a service that would dramatically change and improve farm and ranch life and production. By the end of 1940, 135 miles of line was energized and serving 216 members. John Klingman was the first Project Superintendent. In September, H.M. Green took the position of Project Superintendent. The first Board members were Arthur Russell, W.F. McGuire, Jack Massey, E.C. Carrol, Leo Russell, D.W. Allison, Stanley Marik, E.M. Wade, and Ponder Kelley. H.C. Ivester was the cooperative attorney.
Northfork was off to a great start; however, at the annual meeting in 1942 the members were handed a setback. They were told at the meeting in April the construction would be put on hold because the War Production Board needed materials.
In 1943, the War Production Board rescinded the previous order and allowed extensions from existing powerlines with stipulations. If you were within5,000 feet of the line and you had one animal for every 100 feet of line, you could qualify.
Unless the member could show they could help with the war production his request would likely be turned down. In November 1943 Cecil Neely was appointed as manager of Northfork Electric. He came to Northfork from Kiwash Electric in Cordell. By the end of 1944 things were looking up.
President Roosevelt signed the Pace Bill that would open the way for the eventual broadening of REA financed rural electrification into thinner territory by liberalization of the terms of the agency’s loans. Nortfhrok was allocated an additional $85,000 to be used in extending rural electric service to members in Beckham, Roger Mills, Washita and Custer counties. This would be the second allocation made by the administrator to Northfork that same year, making a total of $225,000.
By 1945 all restrictions on line building were lifted and growth was brisk. Northfork purchased power lines serving Reydon and Durham. The number of members by the end of the end of the year was 1,336. The momentum for rural electrification movement was gaining. At the annual meeting in 1948, 4,000 people were in attendance. By the end of 1949, over 3,000 members were receiving electricity. Northfork had received 3 million dollars in loan funds from REA to provide service.
The cooperatives in Oklahoma, from the beginning, had difficulties in getting enough power where and when it was needed at a reasonable rate. Western Farmers Electric Cooperative was formed to provide the member distribution cooperatives with adequate and dependable low-cost power. In 1941, Western Farmers purchased a plant site, leased several substation sites, and prepared to begin construction of generation facilities with an approved loan. When the war came, Western Farmers voted to cancel orders for materials and placed the loan on inactive status and sacrificed the project temporarily for the war effort. In 1950, the loan was reactivated, and the building of the plant would provide more power at lower rates and provide better service. The cooperatives would be able to expand their facilities. Headquarters for Western Farmers Electric Cooperative would be at Anadarko.
By annual meeting time in 1950 it was announced that area coverage was within easy reach. Area coverage was the goal of Manager Cecil Neely. Neely estimated that 99% of the people in the area who desired electricity were being served.
Manager Neely resigned in November 1960. Harvey Breeze, Line Superintendent, became manager in January of 1961.
In July of 1964, Western Farmers dedicated the new $8 million steam generated power plant at Mooreland. With this addition it would be possible for WFEC to provide the growing power needs of the Oklahoma REC’s.

On January 31, 1980 Harvey Breeze retired as manager and the Board of Trustees appointed Troy Reeves as manager on February 1, 1980.
In 1982, WFEC came on line with a coal fired generation plant at Hugo, OK. WFEC estimated the cost of producing electricity at the plant would be 1/3 less than at other generation facilities.
The Durham substation was energized in 1992. This was the last step toward being able to back feed all of Northfork’s system, providing better reliability for all of its members. Scott Copeland was named General Manager on August 10, 1992. Under his management and the direction of the Board of Directors at that time: Jimmy Taylor, President; Charles Hickey, Vice President; Ransom-Snowden, Secretary-Treasurer; Danny Davis, Chris Mackey, Lloyd Joe Patton and Larry Smith, the cooperative continued to grow and keep up with the never-ending regulations maintaining Northfork’s integrity.
Since 2005, NFEC has installed and maintained an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system. Improvements and more capabilities have been added to the system since the installation. One of those additions has allowed NFEC to get real time data from each meter. This data goes well beyond just a real time meter reading, including volts, amps, kw and power factor that is received every 15 minutes. A system control and data acquisition (SCADA) system was installed in 2010. This system gives NFEC the ability to control, monitor, and store data from devices such as reclosures, regulators, capacitor controllers, and open air switches. To date, NFEC has constant communications with 257 different types of these devices. The SCADA system also communicates with NFEC’s five substations.
Between the SCADA and AMI systems, the cooperative can reroute the power flow and isolate trouble areas of the electrical distribution system that limits outage time for the members. The integration of an outage management system (OMS) in 2018 has allowed NFEC to know about outages even before calls are received from members. The OMS is the hub of outage response as it is fed real time data from both the SCADA and AMI systems. It also works in conjunction with the messaging system which was installed in 2017 to notify the members in advance of any planned outages as well as current status of the outages that affect members.
A meter data management system (MDM) was installed in 2017 which has further enhanced NFEC’s AMI system. The MDM helps to quickly identify meter anomalies, enhanced load analytics and helps verify the data that it receives from the AMI system. Following Scott Copeland’s retirement in January of 2021, Brent Meador was named the cooperative’s General Manager, Northfork’s eighth manager, on February 1, 2021. He serves under the direction of an experienced Board of Trustees: Jimmy Taylor, President; Bandy Silk, Vice President; Chad Smith, Secretary; Brandon Hickey, Treasurer; Chris Mackey, Charles Hickey, and Brad Harrison. Today, the cooperative has 6,556 connected services in Beckham, Roger Mills, Custer, Dewey, Greer, Harmon and Washita counties.
Northfork has existed for 83 years. From its beginning the cooperative has remained a good neighbor to the members and communities it serves. With its mission to provide reliable services for the best value to our member-owners, NFEC will continue to meet the challenges of the future.
NFEC 84th Annual Meeting will be held Saturday, August 19, 2023, at the Sayre City Park with a free barbeque lunch, free swimming and mini golf for members.
The Business Spotlight is sponsored by the Cheyenne Roger Mills Chamber of Commerce.

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