T.I.P. Rural Electric Cooperative has come a long way since 1938 when Phelan Construction Company was hired to build our first line that totaled 132 miles. It took until April 27, 1939, for that line to become energized by W.H. Fisher who was Board President at that time. Our first substation that was just south of Belle Plaine provided the electricity for that line. Irvin Nervig was our first General Manager and he held that position from 1938 until 1978, when he retired. His dedication and hard work built the foundation that keeps your Cooperative strong and along the way he accomplished exactly what he set out to do - get electricity to the rural people.
By the year 1947, with the help of cooperatives like ours 79% of Iowa farms had electricity. Rural people had helped to get that job done by joining their neighbors in starting non-profit rural electric cooperatives. Private power companies had not extended service to rural areas because they decided it could not be profitable.
The early 1950s found T.I.P.'s service area growing. We had five substations, which also meant our membership was getting larger. This, in turn, makes for an increased amount of paperwork and record-keeping. Without enough office space at the present location a new building was constructed at the west edge of Brooklyn and the move was made in June of 1953. At approximately the same time our service territory was stretching farther to the south. Service calls to that area would take longer because of the distance that had to be traveled. The decision was made to have an outpost at Sigourney to maintain the southern half of the service territory.
1963 marked a quarter-century for T.I.P. Rural Electric Cooperative. A lot of changes had happened over the last 25 years. The dream of a few farmers had grown to 10 substations, 4,000 members and 1,600 miles of distribution line. The first patronage refund also happened this year with $180,000 in dividends being paid back to those who were members from 1940 through 1947.
The worst ice storm of T.I.P.'s history struck in 1975. On March 27th ice and high winds downed over 1,000 poles. With the help of other REC's and independent contractors and the use of our own employees, we were able to work around the clock to restore power as quickly as possible. Within a few days, all members again had power restored.
The age of computers for T.I.P. began in June 1978, as we joined Central Area Data Processing in St. Louis, Missouri. Record keeping and billing procedures no longer had to be done by hand.
Another big change happened in 1978 as General Manager Irvin Nervig retired after 40 years of service. Darrel N. Heetland who had been the Assistant Manager filled the position to become only the second manager in the cooperative's history.
The Louie the Lightning Bug safety program debuted in February 1989. Louie and his helper travel to all the schools in our service territory promoting electrical safety to the children.
In 1998, T.I.P. joined with Touchstone Energy, a national alliance of local, consumer-owned electric cooperatives providing high standards of service to customers, large and small. Touchstone Energy cooperatives are local, active members of their communities dedicated to serving commercial, industrial, agricultural and residential customers with integrity, accountability, innovation, and commitment to community.
Straight-line winds in the 100 miles per hour area struck T.I.P.'s service territory on June 29, 1998. Approximately 4,500 of 5,500 members were without power. Transmission service was lost to 17 of our 21 substations by our power supplier.
We requested help through the Iowa REC Disaster Plan and received a lot of help from various places. All totaled there were 47 extra people working in addition to our own 27 employees. By 5 PM on July 3rd all consumers that had facilities in condition to use power were restored. Our damage estimate for this storm was approximately $250,000.00.
The Turtle System was our next big project. In May 2001, we began installing meters with an automatic meter reader in them. This Turtle automatically reads your meter and transmits the reading down the electric line to the substation receiver. The substation receiver is called each night by a host computer in the Brooklyn office. Eventually, we hope to have the entire system read automatically.
Once again office space became an issue and it was decided that an addition to our existing office was necessary. During October 2001 the addition was completed and the move began.
On February 24, 2007, TIP Rural Electric Cooperative was hit by a severe ice storm which caused about 5,350 of our 6,150 customers to be out of power. We received help from REC's and contractors located in Minnesota, Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa. We lost approximately 700 poles with estimated damage of $1,000,000. We were able to get everyone back on by March 1st.
The Sigourney office was badly in need of repair, so in 2008 we tore the old Sigourney buildings down and constructed a new building that housed the office and garage.
On February 1, 2011, the Cooperative named Larry Boesenberg as the General Manager, becoming only the 3rd General Manager in the history of T.I.P. Rural Electric Cooperative. He replaced Darrel N. Heetland who retired after 42 years of service to the Cooperative.
On December 8, 2012, T.I.P. Rural Electric Cooperative was awarded a $5,325,876.00 FEMA Mitigation Grant to replace 63.11 miles of single-phase and three-phase lines. We hired IES Commercial, Inc. as our contractors to install the new line. IES Commercial began their work in October 2013 and finished the project in April 2014.
In 2013 T.I.P. Rural Electric Cooperative celebrated 75 years in business. To celebrate the event we put a 75-year booklet together for everyone to enjoy. We highlighted the event by having Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds speak at our annual meeting.
In 2015 TIP found itself with an antiquated meter reading system that needed to be replaced. After researching the products of several different vendors, it was decided that the Elster system was the best fit for our cooperative. This change also brought us a new product, SmartHub, which will allow members to look at their hourly electric usage, view their bill and pay their bill via the internet or smartphone. The new system was completely deployed by October 2015.
On May 15, 2017, the Cooperative named Jon Miles as the General Manager, becoming the 4th General Manager in the history of T.I.P. Rural Electric Cooperative.
In the spring of 2019 employees completed a large mapping project in cooperation with GMS and NISC. All paper maps were retired. The system map moving forward exists as a digital map that integrates with the billing and outage management systems. The interactive map was also made available to the linemen via an app served on mobile assets like tablets and phones.
On May 16, 2019, the Cooperative named Dean A. Huls as the General Manager, becoming the 5th General Manager in the history of T.I.P. Rural Electric Cooperative.
On Monday, August 10, 2020, a derecho storm caused extensive, widespread damage to our entire service territory. The derecho left 6,288 of our 6,438 meters which is 97.7% of our total meters without power. We had approximately 160 broken poles and over 30,000 ft of damaged wire. We had 32 linemen from eight cooperatives come to our aid to help repair damage to our system and restore power. Ten days later all services were energized except those that we were waiting on electricians for repairs.
On Saturday, August 29, 2020, we held our first Drive-Thru Annual Meeting at the BGM Campus parking lot due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The business meeting and reports were recorded on video and were available to view on our website. Amendments to the Articles of Incorporation were passed to enable flexibility for future Annual Meetings.