Matanuska Electric Association, Inc., Alaska's oldest and second-largest electric cooperatives, is owned and operated by its members.
Organized efforts to acquire electricity began in the Matanuska Valley Colony in the late Thirties. The Valley was scarcely settled before 1935, when the New Deal administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent colonists to settle the area as part of a grand experiment to relocate impoverished rural residents where they might make a fresh start.
The Alaska Rural Rehabilitation Corp. (ARRC) was formed to manage the colony, and 201 colonist families from northern counties of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin were sent by boat and rail to be greeted at the Matanuska Depot by rainy skies and mud.
Over the next few years, the colonists cleared land and built roads, farms, homes and stores.
In 1935, President Roosevelt also signed an executive order creating the Rural Electrification Administration (REA), another New Deal experiment. Long an advocate of cheaper electric power, he signed a bill the following year that allowed REA to make low-interest loans available to electric cooperatives such as MEA.