In the early 1930's rural people wanted electricity just like people living in the cities. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt recognized that rural people needed this convenience. Thus, he created the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) and the formation of rural electric cooperatives, like Tri-County Electric Membership Corporation, began. With help from REA, Tri-County Electric Membership Corporation was chartered on May 8, 1940 by a group of members who banded together to bring themselves the service they needed. Electricity!
The cooperative had a meek beginning in 1940, with only 304 miles of line being built. These lines served mostly rural homes and farms. As time past, the cooperative grew, expanding lines to areas that would not have been reached by the investor-owned utilities.
In 1952, Tri-County, along with twenty-six other electric cooperatives in North Carolina formed a statewide cooperative known as North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation. Its primary purpose was to generate and purchase power, purchase utility materials in bulk and provide legislative support to the member cooperatives.
Territorial boundaries were established for utility providers in 1960 giving Tri-County service territory in Wayne, Duplin, Lenoir, Johnston, Jones, Sampson and Wilson Counties
Tri-County located its first office on North William Street in Goldsboro. In the fall of 1977, the cooperative moved from Goldsboro to a new headquarters building in Dudley.
Originally organized to provide lights and power to homes and farms, the cooperative has kept pace with changing times and now serves a wide variety of industrial, recreational, educational and other community interests.
Sixty years after its meek beginning in 1940, Tri-County Electric Membership Corporation now serves over 20,400 consumers (member-owners), and operates and maintains 2,391 miles of line. The cooperative is an integral part of the communities it serves. Activities include marketing value-added services to the consumers, supporting economic development projects, providing safety demonstrations to school and community organizations, granting Bright Idea Grants to local educators, Having Youth participate in the Rural Electric Youth Tour, sponsoring Operation Round-Up which helps individuals and organizations in the communities who are in emergency situations, providing educational scholarships to high school seniors and most of all, providing safe and reliable electric service to its members.
In 1999, Tri-County Electric Membership Corporation joined a national alliance of rural electric cooperatives across the nation to become A Touchstone Energy Cooperative. By doing this, it has committed to embrace the principles of integrity, accountability, innovation and commitment to community.