Illinois pioneers of rural electrification

Becker_Abram_CroppedAbram E. “Abe” Becker, ­former manager of Menard Electric Cooperative in Petersburg was selected in 1942 to coordinate activities for the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives (AIEC), while continuing his duties for the cooperative.

As the activities of the AIEC grew, the Petersburg native became its first full-time ­manager and oversaw construction of a new headquarters building in Springfield.

One of the first moves under Becker’s tenure was the printing of a monthly newsletter, Illinois REA News, for members of all Illinois electric cooperatives. In ­addition, a comprehensive safety and ­training program was ­formulated, and an emergency work plan was ­developed to assist cooperatives repair and restore power after major disasters.

Seventy-five years later, these ­programs have grown and continue to be a vital part of the AIEC, and its member cooperatives.

In celebration of the AIEC’s 75th anniversary, this is first in a series of profiles on Illinois’ rural electric pioneers.