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Magic Valley's 80th Anniversary

For Immediate Release Contact: Luis J. Reyes | Magic Valley Electric Cooperative
956-903-3050 | lreyes@magicvalley.coop

Eighty years after its founding, Magic Valley Co-op has 96,002 member-owners, is the third largest electric co-op in Texas, and the twenty-second largest of the 900 in the nation. Much has changed, yet MVEC has stayed true to its roots and cooperative principles. 

In 1937, Rio Grande Valley farmers were fed up with power companies’ refusal to run electric lines into rural areas. Without electricity, farm families hauled water from wells or irrigation canals for cooking and washing They couldn’t use labor and timesaving devices such as washing machines, electric lights, and refrigerators. They weren’t among the 25 million Americans who tuned their radios to the news, FDR’s Fireside Chats, The Lone Ranger, and the National Farm and Home Hour. Around the United States, only 12 percent of farms had electricity. 

But 125 Valley farm families, on Sept. 13, 1937, chartered a cooperative to supply dependable electric service at a low cost -- one of the first co-ops in Texas. They borrowed money from the Rural Electrification Administration, a new federal agency, to install the power lines for what is now Magic Valley Electric Cooperative. On September 7, 1938, three months after the first power poles were raised in a citrus orchard at Mile 5 West and Mile 12 1/2 North, the co-op’s first line was energized. Not surprisingly, some co-op members had already purchased washing machines, radios, and water pumps. 

Four MVEC board members have memories of life without electricity. Dr. Martin Garcia, board chairman, lived at El Divisadero Ranch in Kenedy County until he started school, returning during summer vacations. The Raymondville veterinarian recalls, “Dad had an old generator he would power up and run a few hours in the evenings. I remember irons were heated on the stove before ironing clothes.” Men chopped wood for the kitchen stoves. 

When power finally reached the ranch in the late 1940s, “It was a blessing. The line from the highway went through my aunt’s ranch and my uncle’s ranch to us—a lot of miles of poles and lines.” He cherishes the good memories, too, of sitting outside after supper, talking, and enjoying the breeze. 

Ray Lopez, District 2 board member, grew up on the northwest side of Brownsville in a house that used kerosene lamps until he was about eight years old. He remembers burning his forehead from bending too close to a hot lamp and his winter chore of bringing a tub of hot charcoal inside to heat the house. Getting electricity meant a water heater and indoor plumbing instead of an outhouse and an outside shower. “It was like heaven for us kids, especially at night. You take it for granted now. When you talk to the grandkids about it, they don’t believe you.” 

MVEC board member, Barbara S. Miller, recalls her aunts, Dolly, Derlie and Irene, born between 1915-25, telling her about farm life north of Mercedes before the co-op brought electricity to District 4. “They felt left behind because most kids in town had electricity and they didn’t.” What they did have were tougher chores, such as hauling buckets of water for their mother to wash clothes. 

Nila Wipf, District 3 board member, had no electricity growing up in Batangas, Philippines, where the soot from homemade kerosene lamps blackened children’s faces. “With no refrigeration, everything had to be fried or dried. Women took scrub boards and clothing to the river. You crammed as much as possible into the daylight hours.” 

When President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Rural Electrification Act in 1936, he remarked that empowering rural America would “democratize the American dream.” And he was right. In 1939, MVEC rocketed to 1,349 members. 

In 1950, Magic Valley Electric Co-op became the first electric co-op in the nation to send members checks for patronage refunds, now called capital credits. Capital credits reflect the margins generated by the Cooperative after expenses have been covered. With the Co-op financially healthy, members received checks in proportion to their payments. Since then, $54 million has been returned to MVEC members. 

By 1951, most rural residents in the Valley had electricity, but MVEC continued to grow, supplying more power to members who added new appliances and farm equipment. In 1953, new three-phase power lines, along with sturdier pole-top hardware, reduced service interruptions and delivered more reliable power. MVEC became the first Texas co-op to install two-way radio systems in service trucks and to send members bilingual publications. 

Times, indeed, have changed. Farm productivity has soared, thanks in part to electric motors and equipment. People who live in rural areas are assured of electric power. See the February issue for more on MVEC’s first –and second – 80 years. 

Magic Valley Empowers Teach for America with a $5,000 Donation


Magic Valley Electric Cooperative invests in education to support the recruitment, training, and professional development of teachers in the Rio Grande Valley.

For Immediate Release Contact: Luis J. Reyes | Magic Valley Electric Cooperative
956-903-3050 | lreyes@magicvalley.coop

Mercedes, April 15, 2016— Magic Valley Electric Cooperative (MVEC) invests in education with a $5,000 donation to Teach For America - Rio Grande Valley (TFA-RGV). TFA-RGV’s mission is to enlist, develop, and mobilize as many as possible of our nation’s most promising future leaders to grow and strengthen the movement for educational equity and excellencein the Rio Grande Valley.

Since 2007, Magic Valley has been a partner with Teach For America and has committed over $40,000 to help support the cause. The funds support Teach For America’s operations and the impact of over 250 Teach For America corps members and alumni in the Rio Grande Valley.

Teach For America recruits, trains, and supports top college graduates and professionals who commit to teach for two years in under-resourced schools and become lifelong leaders in the pursuit of educational equity.

“We’re so grateful for Magic Valley’s leadership in supporting Teach For America here in the Valley. As a result of their generosity we are one step closer to helping all students in this region have access to quality education,” said Dr. Paula Garcia, Executive Director of Teach For America - Rio Grande Valley.

“Two of the cooperative principles we adhere to embrace the support of education and concern for our community,” said Atanacio Hinojosa, MVEC’s Western Division Manager and Teach For America-Rio Grande Valley Board Member. “We recognize and support the positive impact that Teach For America has on our region. They consistently and effectively recruit, train and place top tier college graduates from across the nation as educators and leaders in our communities.”

About Teach For America

Teach For America works in partnership with communities to expand educational opportunity for children facing the challenges of poverty. Founded in 1990, Teach For America recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding college graduates and professionals to make an initial two-year commitment to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the effort to end educational inequity. Today, 8,600 corps members are teaching in 52 urban and rural regions across the country while more than 42,000 alumni work across sectors to ensure that all children have access to an excellent education. Teach For America is a proud member of the AmeriCorps national service network. For more information, visit riograndevalley.teachforamerica.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About Magic Valley

Magic Valley is a local electric cooperative providing electric service to the Rio Grande Valley since 1937. MVEC is the third largest electric cooperative in Texas. For more information about Magic Valley and its philanthropic efforts please visit magicvalley.coop and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Download our MVEC Journal in PDF format

MVEC’s 80th Anniversary

Eighty years after its founding, Magic Valley Co-op has 96,002 member-owners, is the third largest electric co-op in Texas, and the twenty-second largest of the 900 in the nation. Much has changed, yet MVEC has stayed true to its roots and cooperative principles.

In 1937, Rio Grande Valley farmers were fed up with power companies’ refusal to run electric lines into rural areas. Without electricity, farm families hauled water from wells or irrigation canals for cooking and washing They couldn’t use labor and timesaving devices such as washing machines, electric lights, and refrigerators. They weren’t among the 25 million Americans who tuned their radios to the news, FDR’s Fireside Chats, The Lone Ranger, and the National Farm and Home Hour. Around the United States, only 12 percent of farms had electricity.

But 125 Valley farm families, on Sept. 13, 1937, chartered a cooperative to supply dependable electric service at a low cost -- one of the first co-ops in Texas. They borrowed money from the Rural Electrification Administration, a new federal agency, to install the power lines for what is now Magic Valley Electric Cooperative. On September 7, 1938, three months after the first power poles were raised in a citrus orchard at Mile 5 West and Mile 12 1/2 North, the co-op’s first line was energized. Not surprisingly, some co-op members had already purchased washing machines, radios, and water pumps.

Four MVEC board members have memories of life without electricity. Dr. Martin Garcia, board chairman, lived at El Divisadero Ranch in Kenedy County until he started school, returning during summer vacations. The Raymondville veterinarian recalls, “Dad had an old generator he would power up and run a few hours in the evenings. I remember irons were heated on the stove before ironing clothes.” Men chopped wood for the kitchen stoves.

When power finally reached the ranch in the late 1940s, “It was a blessing. The line from the highway went through my aunt’s ranch and my uncle’s ranch to us—a lot of miles of poles and lines.” He cherishes the good memories, too, of sitting outside after supper, talking, and enjoying the breeze.

Ray Lopez, District 2 board member, grew up on the northwest side of Brownsville in a house that used kerosene lamps until he was about eight years old. He remembers burning his forehead from bending too close to a hot lamp and his winter chore of bringing a tub of hot charcoal inside to heat the house. Getting electricity meant a water heater and indoor plumbing instead of an outhouse and an outside shower. “It was like heaven for us kids, especially at night. You take it for granted now. When you talk to the grandkids about it, they don’t believe you.”

MVEC board member, Barbara S. Miller, recalls her aunts, Dolly, Derlie and Irene, born between 1915-25, telling her about farm life north of Mercedes before the co-op brought electricity to District 4. “They felt left behind because most kids in town had electricity and they didn’t.” What they did have were tougher chores, such as hauling buckets of water for their mother to wash clothes.

Nila Wipf, District 3 board member, had no electricity growing up in Batangas, Philippines, where the soot from homemade kerosene lamps blackened children’s faces. “With no refrigeration, everything had to be fried or dried. Women took scrub boards and clothing to the river. You crammed as much as possible into the daylight hours.”

When President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Rural Electrification Act in 1936, he remarked that empowering rural America would “democratize the American dream.” And he was right. In 1939, MVEC rocketed to 1,349 members. 

In 1950, Magic Valley Electric Co-op became the first electric co-op in the nation to send members checks for patronage refunds, now called capital credits. Capital credits reflect the margins generated by the Cooperative after expenses have been covered. With the Co-op financially healthy, members received checks in proportion to their payments. Since then, $54 million has been returned to MVEC members.

By 1951, most rural residents in the Valley had electricity, but MVEC continued to grow, supplying more power to members who added new appliances and farm equipment. In 1953, new three-phase power lines, along with sturdier pole-top hardware, reduced service interruptions and delivered more reliable power. MVEC became the first Texas co-op to install two-way radio systems in service trucks and to send members bilingual publications.

Times, indeed, have changed. Farm productivity has soared, thanks in part to electric motors and equipment. People who live in rural areas are assured of electric power. See the February issue for more on MVEC’s first –and second – 80 years.