Tri-County Electric Cooperative was incorporated August 14, 1945, by nine founding members. The original incorporating members were: Orlan Bell of Gray; W.M. Deck of Balko; John R. King of Dombey; Rellis Loring of Hooker; J. S. Houston of Dombey; W.E. Depuy of Hooker; Russell McDaniel of Felt; Raymond Thompson of Boise City; and Ward Hanes of Keyes. Those nine members represented the three counties of the Oklahoma Panhandle. The months following the incorporation were spent organizing it and obtaining funding to get started. E.V. “Pete” Loomis of Lindsay, Okla., was hired as the cooperative’s first general manager in 1946. The first round of billing was also issued in 1946 to 479 residents of Hooker, which is where the cooperative’s office has been located since its founding. The cooperative had an unusual start in that it acquired the town of Hooker in 1946 from an existing electric utility and acquired seven additional Panhandle towns in 1947. Many cooperatives were established and served only rural areas outside of towns at that time.
In the early 1950s, the cooperative began building distribution lines to those rural areas of the Oklahoma Panhandle without power. Interestingly enough, the cooperative is replacing some of those same early lines and equipment today. The cooperative’s system has been decimated by significant ice storms at least three times in its history, during the years 1957, 1979 and 2006/2007.
In August 2006, the cooperative acquired the remaining parts of the Oklahoma Panhandle and extended its reach into Texas and Kansas with the acquisition of service territory from Xcel Energy. This was done under the leadership of the cooperative’s fifth and current general manager, CEO Jack L. Perkins. Today, Tri-County Electric Cooperative has more than 12,000 members, about 23,000 meters and more than 5,000 miles of line.