Early Beginnings of CEMC

On April 20, 1938, the State of Tennessee granted Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation (CEMC) a charter to construct, maintain and operate a rural electric distribution system. Funds were to be borrowed from the REA, which at that time was only three years old.

In December of that year, CEMC purchased rural lines in Montgomery County from the Kentucky-Tennessee Light and Power Company for $90,480. In April of 1939, rural lines in the Gallatin area were secured from the same company, and in August, lines in the Portland district were bought from the Tennessee Light and Power Company.

Other purchases included the Springfield area in 1941, followed by Ashland City, Dover and Erin.Erin and Houston County lines were later sold to the Meriwether-Lewis Electric Membership Corporation, leaving CEMC to serve all or part of five counties--Cheatham, Montgomery, Robertson, Stewart and Sumner.

Many people were instrumental in organizing Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation. Of the more active ones, M. C. Northington and W. D. Hudson of Montgomery County and W. C. Jackson of Cheatham County furnished leadership in the early days. Mr. Northington served as Manager of CEMC from 1938 until he retired in 1959.

In 1938 there were only 610 members and 100 miles of line compared to a membership of 98,453 and over 7,918 miles of line as of June 30, 2018. By the end of the Cooperative's first year, CEMC was valued at $508,128. Today, the plant value of Cumberland Electric is over $447 million. In the first year of operation 3,562,177 kilowatt hours of electricity were sold to members; during 2018, sales totaled over 2.6 billion kilowatt hours.