President Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order in 1935 to electrify rural areas. This order not only provided rural electrification, it also provided jobs for Americans who desperately needed them during the depression.
The order created the Rural Electrification Administration. In 1936 Roosevelt signed an executive order that made the REA a permanent federal agency; this order allowed REA to receive funding to offer loans to rural residents who wanted electricity.
1938 Jones County Electric Power Association received one such REA loan. Seven months later, Jones County EPA began offering electric service to rural areas of Jones County, as well as surrounding areas.
1939 Jones County EPA served 700 members along 230 miles of power line.
EARLY YEARS Dixie EPA was located on Ellisville Boulevard in Laurel. Two employees operated the office while General Manager Stover Smith answered service calls, along with Serviceman Lenard Breazeale. These employees not only built lines for the rural areas, they also taught rural residents how to benefit from this new-found power source.
1943 Dixie moved from Ellisville Boulevard to a wooden office building at 317 South Magnolia Street in Laurel. Dixie purchased the property from Alfred McRae.
After building a new brick facility, Dixie rented the wooden office building to Dr. Earl McRae. After Dr. McRae moved out, Dixie moved its linemen and engineering departments into the building. From 1949 to 1970, Dixie’s headquarters operated from this location. The offices were expanded several times to accommodate the growing number of employees.
1949 Jones County EPA changed its name to Dixie Electric Power Association in 1949 to include Wayne County and parts of other neighboring counties. By 1950, the Association grew to 1,735 members and encompassed more than 700 miles of line.
1949 Dixie Electric opened its first branch office on Highway 84 in Waynesboro.
1952 Dixie Electric opened another branch office at 101 West Eighth Avenue in Petal. While at the South Magnolia location Stover Smith retired, and in 1964, Ora Beasley became General Manager.
1970 Dixie Electric moved to its present location on Highway 184.
1975 James T. Dudley, Jr. is named General Manager.
1996 Dixie Electric partners with a comprehensive utility data company for software applications in the areas of billing, service orders, work orders and accounting.
1997 Dixie Electric serves, 4,164 miles of line and more than 30,000 meters. Dixie Electric now covers parts of seven counties, including Jones, Wayne, Covington, Clarke, Forrest, Perry and Jasper counties.
2000 A new building was built for the Petal branch office on Highway 42 in Petal.
2004 The Waynesboro branch office relocated next door from their old office on Azalea Drive. The former bank building was purchased and renovated to better accommodate the needs of the members in Wayne County.
2005 Hurricane Katrina devastated Dixie Electric’s service territory, knocking down trees and lines. All of Dixie Electric’s members were without electric power.
2008 James T. Dudley, Jr. retires and Alan Bradley, long-time engineering manager, is named the new General Manager.
2010 James T. Dudley, Jr. returns to serve as Interim General Manager.
2011 Randy Smith is selected as the General Manager and James T. Dudley, Jr. retires.
Presently Dixie Electric has more than 4,800 miles of line in its service area and serves 38,000 accounts.