A Time of Change

October 28, 2021, marks the 80th anniversary of Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative (GCEC). Throughout the year, look for articles in Florida Currents magazine that celebrate our history. We hope readers enjoy learning more about GCEC.

Carol Sue Halman of Wewahitchka was chosen as the first Miss Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative in 1960.

In April 1958, Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative received a letter from Gulf Power informing the co-op that a 30% to 40% increase in power cost was inevitable. A fuel adjustment clause would soon be imposed as well.

At the April board meeting that year, it was decided to start looking for alternative power suppliers.

In May 1958, GCEC received an invitation to attend a board meeting of Alabama Electric Cooperative to discuss the possibility of obtaining power.

On May 20, 1958, GCEC became a member of AEC.

In October 1958, construction of the transformer platform in Wewahitchka and the warehouse was on order.

Christmas bonuses for 1958 were as follows:

  • One to five years of employment: $10
  • Five to 10 years of employment: $15
  • 10 to 20 years of employment: $20

In February 1959, construction on both the transformer platform and the warehouse was completed.

In March 1959, additional property was purchased adjoining the headquarters property. The 2.7 acres was purchased from John Griffin for $2,700.

In 1960, the first yard lights for members were offered at $3 per light.

At the 12th Annual Members’ Meeting on April 9, 1960, a beauty contest was held to elect the first Miss Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative. Carol Sue Halman of Wewahitchka was chosen as queen, receiving a crown, bouquet of roses, and $25. Entrants had to be unmarried and between the ages of 14 and 19.

In 1960, the first streetlights called the Whiteway Project were placed in Wewahitchka for $2 per light under a franchised contract with the city.

October 18, 1960, the GCEC Board of Directors sought wholesale power from AEC under a 35-year contract.

In June 1961, the cooperative manager, A.D. Cullifer, reported membership had topped 3,000 members.

In 1962, the first employee fund was established.

In 1962, the first water heater program was proposed and put into place.

In August 1963, a decision was made to complete the process for power obtained from the generation and transmission cooperative, AEC. This established power for the Southport substation and ended the transmission relationship with Gulf Power.

On October 14, 1964, the first vice president elected to the board of directors at GCEC, C.L. Morgan, died. The vacancy opened a position on the board of directors that Alfred L. Whitfield eventually filled.

In August 1965, the first service charge in the amount of $20 was established for accounts connected at Howard Creek. Camps built on property owned at that time by St. Regis were also set to incur the $20 service charge.

In October 1965, land clearing and road construction started in preparation for erecting the substation in Southport.

In 1966, an alliance was formed called The Panhandle Conference, consisting of GCEC, all cooperatives that were members of AEC, Alabama Power, and Gulf Power. This alliance was formed only for a short time to come up with ways to generate and distribute power for the Panhandle area.

In April 1966, voting by proxy was removed from the GCEC bylaws. L.L. Lanier was welcomed as a new member of the board.

In October 1966, the first employee retirement fund was established, with a 2% match.

In April 1967, it was determined the “said amended bylaw provided that the currently serving board of trustees should designate which trustees represented which districts and groups.” Before this, no districts had been established.