Pioneer Electric Cooperative, based in Piqua, is a celebrity among cooperatives, if there can be such a thing. On Nov. 14, 1935, just six months after President Franklin Roosevelt’s executive order creating the Rural Electrification Administration, a crowd of more than 500 farmers, businessmen, and statesmen from around the country gathered in Piqua to watch workers set the first REA utility pole in the nation. Pioneer Electric has progressed since that day, in manner true to its name and its heritage as a trailblazer among cooperatives.
Pioneer is often at the forefront in the use of new technology for the good of its consumer-members. It was the first electric cooperative in the nation to test radio-controlled management of members’ electric water heaters in an effort to hold the line on rising energy costs in the 1970s, and later was the first in the nation to offer use of the SmartHub app, giving members convenient account access, bill-pay options, and two-way communication with the co-op. Pioneer also was an early adopter of the SCADA system and its advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), which both helps consumers better understand their energy use and improves the reliability of Pioneer’s electric service.
Based in Piqua, Pioneer Electric serves 16,754 consumer-members in 11 counties in the west-central part of the state. The region relies strongly on agriculture, and like many cooperatives, many Pioneer members are farmers. Pioneer, however, boasts a diverse membership that includes several large industrial consumers such as a Honda engine plant in Anna, KTH Parts in St. Paris, the Upper Valley Medical Center in Troy, and Proctor and Gamble’s logistics and distribution center in Union. It also serves tourist destinations such as Cedar Bog Nature Preserve, Lake Loramie State Park, and Charleston Falls Preserve. Pioneer even provides the electrical service at the annual three-day Country Concert in Fort Loramie each July.
Part of the community
The cooperative’s 61 employees are actively involved in the communities they serve. They’ve rallied together to purchase gifts for area families in need for more than 25 years, and the co-op’s “Powering Possibilities” committee has coordinated donations to the local Alzheimer’s Association, area food pantries, and Pink Ribbon Girls, which supports the fight against breast and reproductive cancers.
“Great employees lead to great service,” says Pioneer CEO Ron Salyer. “Our employees continually show their generosity not only through their contributions but also through the extra efforts made outside their normal day-to-day duties to demonstrate their commitment to the communities that we serve.”