Snapping Shoals EMC celebrates 70 years

CONYERS - What began 70 years ago with five men and a $90,000 loan has grown into a nonprofit organization that supplies 94,000 homes, businesses and other facilities with electricity in an eight-county area.

In a celebration that recognizes those 70 years while focusing on the future, Snapping Shoals Electric Membership Corporation will host its annual meeting July 17 at the Georgia International Horse Park in the Charles C. Walker Arena.

The consumer-owned, non-profit electric service provider came into being as Snapping Shoals Power and Light Co. on June 29, 1936, when five area men took out a loan of $90,000 to construct 90 miles of line to serve 270 consumers in Rockdale, Newton and Henry counties. The first power lines were energized in November 1937, bringing electric power to many who had never had it before, according to a Snapping Shoals EMC news release.

The company's name hails from the original location of its headquarters along the South River between Henry and Newton counties, where a small electric generating facility was located. In 1938, the name was changed to Snapping Shoals Electric Membership Corporation, and the headquarters moved to Covington. Little expansion of the system had occurred during the two years of private ownership, but as a cooperative, the electric utility grew to serve 1,450 members on 250 miles of line by 1941. The system's expansion was limited to critical needs during World War II, but growth resumed shortly thereafter.

Completed in 1992, Snapping Shoals EMC's current headquarters are located on Brown Bridge Road in Newton County, near the Rockdale and Henry county lines.

"Snapping Shoals EMC has seen tremendous growth in recent years," the release states. "It currently provides electric service to nearly 94,000 homes, businesses and other facilities in an eight-county area that includes large portions of Newton, Henry and Rockdale counties, as well as parts of DeKalb, Butts, Walton, Jasper and Morgan counties."

As consumer-owners of Snapping Shoals EMC, all the electric membership's clients hold a stake in the enterprise. As the cooperative is nonprofit, any revenue remaining after all expenses have been paid is eventually returned to the member-owners through the issuance of capital credit checks or via bill credits. In 2008, Snapping Shoals EMC has already returned $2 million to its members and qualifying former members through capital credit payments and bill credits.

The members of the cooperative also have a direct voice in its operation. Each year, consumer-members have the opportunity to elect directors at the Annual Meeting. The directors, who are also members of the co-op, are elected to act on behalf of the member-owners, establishing overall policy and direction for the co-op.

Registration for this year's Annual Meeting will begin at 10 a.m. and end promptly at 1:15 p.m. The business session will follow at 1:30 p.m.

But make no mistake, the Annual Meeting isn't all business. It also provides a day of entertainment for the whole family. Highlights will include live music by the Common Garments Quartet, a Southern gospel group; a health fair featuring services by Newton Medical Center staff; children's activities such as basketball, tee ball, tic-tac-toe, skee ball and a 22-foot dual slide; registration gifts; and a drawing for prizes.

To mark the 70th anniversary, the first 2,000 members to register will receive an iron skillet inscribed with the Snapping Shoals EMC logo.

Drawing prizes include a flat-screen TV, DVD player and a microwave oven. Special drawings will recognize the oldest married couple in attendance and the oldest member in attendance. The grand prize of the drawings will be a 2003 Ford F-250 truck that is being retired from the Snapping Shoals EMC fleet.

There will be seating for about 2,500 in the Charles C. Walker Arena, and attendees are welcome to bring their own lawn chairs.

For more information, contact Snapping Shoals EMC at 770-786-3484.

Colin Stewart can be reached at colin.stewart@rockdalecitizen.com.