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About Us

What is an electric cooperative?

Fall COlors
Fall Colors

An electric cooperative is a member-owned electric utility. It differs from a publicly owned utility in that the member-owner of a cooperative has a voice in leadership through voting rights and is able to attend the annual meeting. Member-owners are also given a share of any profits or margins generated by the electric cooperative, otherwise known as Capital Credits.


That the members of BARC Electric Cooperative enjoy the benefits of safe, reliable electricity and other related services that improve their quality of life at fair and affordable prices.

That the work environment and mission of BARC Electric Cooperative inspires our employees to find fulfillment in serving and encourages each of them to develop his/her full potential.


In 1937, Mr. J. S. Knowlson and Colonel J. L. Montague corresponded concerning the need for rural electricity in Bath County. Upon request by Mr. Knowlson to the Rural Electrification Administration (REA), Mr. Boyd Fisher sent information to Colonel Montague, the Bath County Agent. This information included guidelines for organizing a cooperative, making a loan, and surveying the prospective members who wished to receive electric service. The gentlemen were referred to Mr. L. E. Long of Harrisonburg and Mr. James H. Rogers of Big Island, as they desired assistance from those with personal experience.
In one letter, Colonel Montague stated that a preliminary survey had been made for the Cow Pasture River neighborhood, covering 43 miles of proposed electric lines and averaging 3 consumers per mile at a cost of approximately $3 per month for each consumer. If the line developed a heavier load in years to come, the rate would be reduced. REA would not approve building this line because it called for erecting an additional power plant in connection with the Lowman Mill at Millboro Springs. If the line was to be built, a cooperatively-owned line would be necessary, one which could be financed entirely through REA.

Allegheny Mountain Sunset
Allegheny Mountain Sunset

In order to obtain the loan, a cooperative and board of directors comprised only of paid members was needed. This was created and REA considered the project. On March 3, 1938, REA contracted to build lines in Bath, Alleghany, and Rockbridge Counties (thus the name BARC Electric Cooperative). The Cooperative then went about obtaining applications for electric service, membership fees, easements, an attorney, incorporation, and financing. Later in March, the first meeting was called to elect directors, three from each of the counties of Bath, Alleghany, and Rockbridge. The Certificate of Incorporation was granted on April 19, 1938. The first annual meeting of members was held in Lexington, VA on January 30, 1939. In 1940, additional financing was approved by the REA to build 182 additional miles of line and to provide service to farmers in Bath, Alleghany, Rockbridge, Augusta, and Highland Counties.

BARC has grown from 1008 meters connected in 1940 to over 12,500 meters today.