LYREC Continues To Brighten The Community

The Lower Yellowstone Rural Electric Cooperative has an important place in the MonDak area and community. The cooperative is engaged locally and strives to give back to the community in real and meaningful ways. For several years, it has worked for sustainable development through policies accepted by its members.

LYREC started out as "The Lower Yellowstone Rural Electric Association" - and had its first office in the Farmers Union Oil Company building. The LYREA's first board meeting was held on Dec. 7, 1936, and the first annual meeting was held Jan. 12, 1937 at the courthouse in Sidney.  

The first construction loan was for $115,000 to build 110 miles of line that would serve approximately 328 members. Manning and Noyes constructed the first 10 miles of line the cooperative built. Work started on the actual construction of the line Aug. 4, 1937 and was completed in December. The Fairview Substation was the 1st substation energized in Montana on Dec. 18, 1937. The first pole was placed at Dreamland, which is between Sidney and Fairview. At this time, a total of 200 customers were connected on 109 1/5 miles of line constructed. The total cost to build this line was $87,731.

In Feb. 1938, the coop purchased its first truck (International ½ ton pickup) for $695 and its first pole trailer for $25.

There have been several changes since the cooperative's inception. In the 1930s, linemen were paid 75¢ an hour for hot line work and 50¢ per hour for groundwork and there was no training facility, therefore they learned everything on the job. 

"The lineman learned the profession on the job which was extremely dangerous leading to many deaths. Although it is still a dangerous profession, the lineman must follow the OSHA guidelines, which includes wearing the proper personal protection equipment," said Jami Propp, LYREC, Member Service Manager.

Today the work has been made easier due to the advanced equipment and tools. The lineworkers used to dig holes by hand and climb the poles. Today, they have hydraulic tools, pole diggers, and buckets to get to where they need to go. 

Advance technology has also made things easier for its members. "Not too long ago our members had to read their meters monthly. Now the meter readings are automatically downloaded for billing purposes," said Propp. 

The electrical load has increased dramatically over the years with plug-ins, air conditioning, freezers, appliances, technology etc. Today the cooperative uses 2-way feeds so if one substation is out, they would be able to switch to a different substation to get the power back on.

Propp added, "Power is no longer a luxury; it is a necessity. People expect to flip the switch and have electricity 24/7. Back in the 30s people saw it as a luxury, a way to make life easier and better. LYREC will continue to update our current system and add on to the system, as service is needed. We will continue to make advancement with the new technology that comes our way." More information about the cooperative can be found on their website at


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