Cooperative News

Celebrating LBJ on Presidents Day

A look at his instrumental role in illuminating the Texas Hill Country

Former U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) played a major role in the formation of PEC and bringing electricity to the Texas Hill Country. Born in Stonewall, Texas, on August 27, 1908, LBJ grew up in Johnson City. His boyhood home still sits across the street from PEC’s Headquarters, serving as a reminder of his dedication to helping electrify rural Central Texas. As we celebrate his life and legacy, here’s a closer look at LBJ’s accomplishments in illuminating the area he called home.

In the 1930s, electricity was not available in the Texas Hill Country. Farmers and ranchers had to hand-pump water from wells, heat their homes with wood or coal, and use gas lamps to create dim lighting after sunset. Meanwhile, just 50 miles away, people in Austin enjoyed the luxuries of an electrified city.

In 1935, then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) established the Rural Electrification Act (REA). While this helped bring electricity to much of rural America, the Hill Country fell short of the REA’s population requirements. LBJ, who represented Texas as a U.S. senator at the time, set out to persuade the Roosevelt administration to bring electricity to the region. He met with FDR to ask for an exception to the REA’s population requirement, but the first meeting fell flat.

LBJ scheduled a second meeting. With about 3,000 families expressing interest in electric service, LBJ met with FDR again to push for an exception to the population requirement. Following that meeting, FDR called the REA director and PEC soon received a $1.332 million loan to build nearly 1,800 miles of electric line.

On May 19, 1938, LBJ and representatives from Blanco, Burnet, Gillespie, Hays, and Llano counties met in Austin to sign an official document incorporating Pedernales Electric Cooperative.

By the fall of 1939, the very first lights turned on in the Texas Hill Country. LBJ’s work was instrumental in forming PEC and bringing electricity to the Texas Hill Country. Those efforts helped light the path for PEC to become the nation’s largest cooperative — serving more than one million Central Texans today, in one of the country’s fastest-growing areas.

Happy Presidents Day, LBJ!