Before central station electricity was available to the farms and businesses of rural western Kansas, people labored heroically just doing routine chores. Night work had to be done by the light of fireplaces, stoves or kerosene lanterns. Operating a ranch, farm or business was backbreaking work requiring a strong spirit of survival.
Nothing has done as much as electricity to improve the quality of my life.
Life improved as small bands of farmers created rural electric cooperatives on the western Kansas prairie. Electricity was used to irrigate the land, operate machinery, water livestock, milk cows, and provide needed heat and lighting for farms and businesses. The productivity of rural Kansas increased dramatically. Referring to the arrival of electricity on the farm, John Tracy, a Syracuse resident and former member of the Sunflower Board, often said, “Nothing has done as much as electricity to improve the quality of my life.” In the ’50s, six western Kansas rural electric cooperatives needed assurance they would have a reliable long-term power supply available to them at a reasonable cost. In 1957 they created Sunflower, a generation and transmission (G&T) cooperative that would purchase and generate power to serve the needs of all six members. The G&T sold power to the member co-ops at a price that was lower than each individual co-op could obtain on its own.
As it has since 1957, Sunflower provides to its distribution cooperatives reliable wholesale power through its generation and transmission network. For more than 60 years, Sunflower’s goal has been to provide an adequate and reliable electric power supply at the lowest possible cost. Although the entire electric industry is fundamentally changing in ways at a pace that exceeds the wildest predictions of visionary planners of a decade ago, our mission remains the same: providing reliable energy at the lowest possible cost.
Sunflower is working with our distribution cooperatives to identify and implement new services. Most agree that history tends to repeat itself. Profit-seeking organizations did not seek to serve rural customers in the past, and we don’t believe they will in the future. That is why our “model for cooperation” continues to serve those who own us.