Norris Electric Cooperative was organized September 18, 1938, and delivered its first power to serve 550 members in Crawford, Cumberland, Effingham, Jasper, Richland and part of the Clark counties on December 24, 1939. From the original 215 miles of line and one substation, Norris Electric has grown to a cooperative with 4,072 miles of line and 31 substations. Norris Electric provides electric power to most rural residents in Crawford, Cumberland, Effingham, Jasper, Lawrence, Clark, Richland and Wabash counties. Membership has grown from the original 550 to over 19,000.
Early kilowatt-hour consumption by cooperative members averaged less than 30 kilowatt-hour per month. In 2014, the average monthly kilowatt usage has risen to 1,517.
When the cooperative was incorporated in 1938, there were several suggestions for a name for the fledgling organization. Many cooperatives being organized at the same time were taking the names of predominant area crops or prominent geographical sites, and our cooperative almost took the same route. Among the names suggested were, "Red Top Electric Cooperative", because a large amount of red top seed was produced in the area then. "Embarrass River Electric Cooperative" was a contender too. Then the name of Senator George W. Norris of Nebraska was brought up. It seemed that it would be a fitting tribute to name the cooperative after him because of his skillful and untiring efforts to bring electricity to the countryside all over America.
Norris Electric, with headquarters in Newton, has proven that rural people want and require electric power. The increase in kilowatt-hour usage indicates that a strong electric cooperative, responsive to its members' needs, is still one of the best assets of an era.
Local citizens maintain control of their own electric business by efficiently exercising democratic rights as member-owners of Norris Electric Cooperative. Operating on the one-member, one-vote principle, members elect directors at their annual business meeting each year to set policies and guide the operations of this local business. Directors meet at least once a month to carry out the tremendous responsibilities entrusted to them by their fellow members.