Tri-County Electric Cooperative was formed in 1939 to provide electricity in rural areas of Loudoun, Fairfax and Clarke counties. Prince William Electric Cooperative first served customers in Manassas and rural areas in Prince William, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun and Stafford counties in 1941. On January 1, 1983, the two consolidated and became Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative. Prior to Tri-County and Prince William electric cooperatives, most Northern Virginians who did not live in cities or towns had to live and work without electricity, because delivering power to remote farming regions reduced investor-owned utilities’ profit margins. Consequently, rural America lagged behind thriving Industrial Revolution cities.
That economic dichotomy changed during the Great Depression when President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress in 1935 to pass legislation to help electrify more than five million farms. With funding from the newly established Rural Electrification Administration, farmers formed co-ops to obtain “the electric.” Jubilant celebrations occurred across the country when the new co-ops—including Tri-County and Prince William—flipped the switch to power rural America for the first time.
In 2008, NOVEC celebrated its 25th anniversary of providing electric service to Northern Virginia. During the course of the year, employees and customers saw photos and heard reminiscences of the many ways NOVEC has helped to improve the lives of its customer-owners.
Today, NOVEC is one of the largest electric distribution cooperatives in the country. It has grown from serving approximately 38,000 meters in 1983 to 177,000, covering a 651-square mile territory in Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William, Stafford and Clarke counties and the City of Manassas Park.