A lot can happen in a decade, let alone eight of them. At Adams Electric we’ve been honored to be the providers of electricity for up to 32,000 homes, farms, businesses and members for 80 years, and counting.

Each decade comes with its own story, some tougher than others. For instance, in the 1940s our founding membership fought the “Battle of the Pole Holes” during a cold January in the Newville area of Cumberland County. They backfilled the utility pole holes dug by a private power company trying to interfere with the creation of a local cooperative. Electricity finally came to travel Adams Electric’s power lines in Shippensburg and then Gettysburg, May 3, 1941, to much fanfare and celebration.

Since 1942, the Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association (PREA) has served as the unified voice for electric cooperatives in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Working in close partnership with PREA is Allegheny Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Allegheny), a generation and transmission cooperative. Formed in 1946 by these cooperatives, Allegheny provides the power requirements for the 14 rural electric distribution cooperatives in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

During the 50s, your cooperative added more members, more employees, a new office building, and load growth as electrical appliances were introduced. The strength of the co-op’s defense was tested again, as the “Blizzard of 58” blanketed South-Central Pennsylvania in more than 50 inches of snow, and co-op crews worked tirelessly to maintain both service and reliability.

In the 60s, all-electric homes became popular, and the co-op’s workforce continued to expand to meet the growing demands of the membership. To communicate with our members more regularly, the first issue of Penn Lines was published in 1966, printed by PREA, and distributed to all electric cooperative members statewide, to include this local section, specific to Adams Electric as it continues still.

By the 1970s technology in the field was expanding. Bucket trucks began to replace pick up trucks, allowing line crews to do their work more quickly and efficiently. With this came the introduction of underground facilities but also new struggles in safety. A formal safety training and accreditation process was rolled out nationwide to help educate and protect field personnel in the electric power sector. Safety messages and instruction to the membership and public were also encouraged.

New products and services continued to be added in the 80s, including load management devices which would begin to move electricity off-peak, saving co-op members millions of dollars in avoided power purchases. Also introduced was Project Helping Hand, the member assistance program offered once a year to members who fall on hard times. Members helping members is a core value of the cooperative program and since members own the cooperative the help happens whether enrolled in the program or not.

During the 1990s, Adams Electric celebrated 50 years of service with the placement of a historic marker along Route 34 in Gettysburg and co-op members elected the first woman to its board of directors. Nationwide, electric cooperatives adopted the “green ball” logo we still wear proudly, depicting electric lines running across a field, honoring our rural history. In addition, the cooperative built a new headquarters building on a plot of land behind its Gettysburg District offices for administrative duties and in-house billing and communications.

An innovator in energy projects, Adams spent the 2000s experimenting with more advanced electric alternatives – solar (including its own photovoltaic system on-site for research and reduced energy consumption during peak hours) and wind power, dual-fuel options, heat pump water heaters (some early models tested in the 70s), and added hybrid SUVs and the first in the nation hybrid bucket truck to its fleet. Aerial patrols started to improve reliability as linemen spotted potential problems from the air before they caused outages and automated meters were deployed to add the convenience of members not having to physically read their meter each month.

The 2010s brought about a renewed battle with the elements as Adams Electric experienced the worst and most expensive storms in its history. The co-op responded by adding all-terrain vehicles to its fleet in all three districts and adopting a more comprehensive vegetation management system. Improvements in technology and expanded computerization helped the co-op better monitor its electric distribution system, cutting outage response time and even predicting power interruption locations.

In 2016, a new Shippensburg District office was built and brought online. As a resource for the membership, the co-op introduced SmartHub an online bill view/bill pay portal for electric use monitoring, outage reporting and electronic notifications.

Now, here we are at the start of 2020, a new decade, with an unpredictable future. Technology upgrades, electric vehicle load growth, continued automation, advanced safety practices and financial prudence are sure to be included.

Progress is not linear. In fact, it’s nearly impossible without change. But with it comes a dedication to continued improvement, a fine-tuning of already highly professional skills and a commitment to 80 more years of moving forward.

Steve Rasmussen is CEO/General Manager of Adams Electric.

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