- Alturas, CA
- Site Type:
- Infrastructure and Utilities, Electricity
- New Deal Agencies:
- Public Works Funding, Rural Electrification Administration (REA)
"n 1936, F.L. "Barney" Roberts of Surprise Valley was weary of being in the dark. He wanted electric lights in his home, convenience for his wife's work and a dependable power source for his milking machine in his dairy barn.
Barney petitioned the California Public Service Company of Cedarville for a power line to the ranches of Surprise Valley.
After being turned down for power by California Public Service Company of Cedarville, Barney wrote to President Roosevelt requesting a solution to the problem. The President responded to Barney's request, telling him about the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, which provided federal financing for rural electrification projects.
At the advice of the President, Barney, Dave H. Grove, and Frank J. Powers, both Eagleville ranchers, met on June 13, 1936 and formed Surprise Valley Electrification Corp. These three men formed a board of directors and initiated the development of a nonprofit electrical cooperative committed to providing service at a reasonable rate.
SVEC was incorporated under the laws of the State of California on March 29, 1937. An application for a Rural Electrification Administration loan was made on June 1, 1937 for $500,000 and the first funds were received August 30, 1937. The headquarters office was established on the top floor of the Belli Building in Alturas.
Allan Sickler was hired as manager in charge of building the distribution lines. On June 22, 1938, Mr. Sickler instructed Gerald Miller to turn on the switch to energize the 344 miles of power lines constructed by SVEC. The energized lines brought electricity to 809 customers in Surprise Valley, Canby, Adin, Lookout and the area known as Westside near Lakeview, Oregon.
The original system was energized with power generated from three diesel generators located in the building that is now the SVEC business office.
In 1938 SVEC acquired the Fort Bidwell Electric Company, adding that system with its 75 consumers to the SVEC system. The Paisley power plant was acquired in 1940 and a line was constructed to serve this area at that time."
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