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On Oct. 10, 1936, when Steele County Cooperative and Waseca Cooperative Electric voted to consolidate, there were 860 members. By the end of 2010, Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric (SWCE) service locations had grown to 9,427.

SWCE's first office was located in Waseca. After Rice County joined with Steele-Waseca in 1937, the office was moved to Owatonna to provide a more central location. The office was located on West Bridge Street and then on Cedar Avenue until 1954, when a new building was constructed on East Rose Street. That building served as the headquarters until 1994 when the present facility on West Bridge Street was built.

The first part of SWCE's line was energized in February 1938. When complete, the initial project consisted of 350 miles of line. By 1950 that number had grown to 1,562. Today SWCE has a total of 2,009 miles of line, 16 substations in service, and 900 square miles of service area.

In 1950 SWCE had 2.6 members per mile of line. Currently SWCE has 4.7 members per mile of line. In comparison, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's 2009 data, investor-owned electric utilities on average serve 35 customers per mile of line while municipal electric utilities average 47 customers per mile of line.


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The Rural Economic Development Loan & Grant program — known as the Red-Leg program — has available loans up to $740,000 for qualified projects.

In comparison to the national average of 35 customers per mile of line, Steele-Waseca Electric Cooperative has only 4.7 members per mile of line.