History of MEA
Matanuska Electric Association, Inc., is Alaska’s oldest and second-largest electric cooperative. It is member-owned.
Organized efforts to acquire electricity began in Palmer’s Matanuska Colony in the late 1930s, shortly after several families from rural America traveled north to Alaska to make a fresh start as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs. The colonists cleared land and built roads, farms, homes and stores.
In 1937, the colony petitioned the newly created Rural Electrification Administration (REA) for help in creating an electric cooperative. Finally, in 1940, the colonists got the go-ahead. On March 1, 1941, they formed the Matanuska Electric Association, the first REA cooperative in the Territory of Alaska.
Despite a lack of trained electric utility workers, challenging environmental conditions and delays in materials delivery, by the next year MEA was providing electricity to about half of its total membership of 242.
Southcentral Alaska’s population quickly grew to support World War II efforts in the Pacific, and requests for electricity increased accordingly. Anchorage’s utility companies had their hands full in that burgeoning city and weren’t interested in expanding north, so MEA responded with additional service.
By 1950, the same year MEA started purchasing power from Chugach Electric Association, it was providing power to Chugiak, Sutton and Jonesville. Birchwood was added in 1952. A decade later, MEA members in Chugiak, Eagle River and Birchwood had become so numerous that the co-op opened its first branch office, in Eagle River.
MEA expanded its services north to Talkeetna in 1963 as well as to Big Lake in 1965. The co-op continued to grow during the 1970s and 80s.
During the 1980s and 90s, MEA made major improvements to its infrastructure and updated its system technology.
Today, MEA serves over 58,000 customers through more than 4,000 miles of power lines throughout the Mat-Su and Eagle River/Chugiak areas.