History of SMECO

Key Dates in SMECO History

1935

On May 11, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 7037 establishing the Rural Electrification Administration (REA).

1937

On February 5, the “Southern Maryland Tri-County Cooperative Association” was incorporated. Later, the name was changed to Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, Inc.

Lineman Frank Norris served SMECO for almost 40 years.

1938

SMECO’s generating plant at Popes Creek, Maryland, was energized, initially serving 400 families.

1942

SMECO’s generating plant at Popes Creek, Maryland, was energized, initially serving 400 families.

1945

SMECO’s generating plant at Popes Creek, Maryland, was energized, initially serving 400 families.

1946

SMECO’s generating plant at Popes Creek, Maryland, was energized, initially serving 400 families.

1953

SMECO’s generating plant at Popes Creek, Maryland, was energized, initially serving 400 families.

1968

A Charles – Prince George’s District Office opened in White Plains. (Closed in 2013.)

1974

Forrest Coakley retired after serving as General Manager since 1938; Walter H. Smith became General Manager.

1976

SMECO connected its 50,000th meter.

1979

New St Mary’s Office opened in Leonardtown.

1980

New Calvert District Office opened in Prince Frederick. (Closed in 2014.)

1981

New Headquarters Office opened in Hughesville.

1982

SMECO introduced the Load Management program, which initially involved about 200 homes.

1989

Walter Smith retired; Wayne Swann was appointed Executive Vice President and General Manager. Construction began on SMECO’s 77-megawatt combustion turbine generating facility located at Pepco’s Chalk Point Generating Station.

Shawn Harley, left, and Harry Sanders perform line work circa 1989.

1995

A centralized call center was established, along with a Key Accounts program for commercial customers.

1997

SMECO celebrated its 60th anniversary with over 112,000 services in place. In one major project, the Co-op and a contractor bored below Mill Creek in Calvert County to enhance service to Maryland’s fastest growing county.

1998

SMECO participated in Maryland Public Service Commission roundtable discussions on customer choice issues. The Co-op also outsourced our information services area through Intellisouce, Inc.

1999

SMECO helped to pass the Electric Customer Choice and Competition Act of 1999.

2000

The Cooperative completed discussions to form the Mid-Atlantic Cooperative Services (MACS) with Choptank Electric Cooperative of Denton, Maryland, and Adams Electric Cooperative of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

2001

SMECO offered Customer Choice to its largest commercial customers on January 1st; all remaining customers became eligible for Choice on November 1st.

2003

Wayne Swann retired; Joe Slater was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer. In September, Hurricane Isabel knocked out electricity to more than half of SMECO’s customers. Together with utility workers from seven states, the Co-op had power restored to 98 percent of its customers in five days.

downed power line near road

Following Hurricane Isabel in 2003, SMECO employees worked around the clock to restore power.

2005

SMECO began purchasing power on the competitive open market with the assistance of ACES Power Marketing.

2006

A simulated emergency evaluated SMECO’s readiness for dealing with events that pose risks to utilities. These include loss of computer systems and data, damage to buildings, shortages of supplies, fires, cyber attacks, pandemics, and biological attacks.

2007

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley visits SMECO’s Hughesville headquarters to learn about the Cooperative’s power buying strategy. SMECO expanded its use of technology to improve service, installing a new customer information system and a mobile workforce management system.

2008

SMECO launched the Southern Maryland Reliability Project to upgrade its transmission capacity and improve the system’s reliability. J.D. Power and Associates recognized the Cooperative as a top award recipient in the Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Survey.

2009

SMECO and the U.S. Navy signed an agreement to privatize three facilities in Southern Maryland. For the next 50 years, SMECO will be responsible for the electric systems at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Lexington Park, Webster Field in St. Inigoes, and the Navy Recreation Center in Solomons.

2010

Forrest Coakley retired after serving as General Manager since 1938; Walter H. Smith became General Manager.

2011

More than 108,800 of SMECO’s customer-members lose power when Hurricane Irene strikes Southern Maryland. The Co-op installed 1,900 smart meters in Waldorf and at three Navy installations.

2012

SMECO expanded its commitment to renewable energy with the SMECO Solar LLC 5.5-megawatt solar generation station in Hughesville. The Mehoopany Wind Farm in Pennsylvania also came on line, with the Co-op pledged to purchase a fifth of the farm’s 141-megawatt output.

2013

SMECO finished construction of the new Engineering and Operations Center in Hughesville. The 165,000 square-foot building houses the contact center and operations center, and supports construction crews for SMECO’s Central Region along with apparatus crews, security personnel, engineering and operations personnel, and master stores. Designed to meet LEED’s platinum standard for green buildings, the building is energy-efficient, employee-friendly, and hurricane-proof.

The Engineering and Operations Center was completed in 2013.

2014

The 230-kV transmission loop through Southern Maryland was completed on November 3.

2015

The 230-kV loop was tested and performed as designed when a major Pepco equipment failure disrupted power from Southern Maryland to the White House.

2016

SMECO members voted to convert the annual meeting to a business meeting with all voting being managed through the mail.

2017

Smart meters were fully deployed by November. SMECO’s advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) enables the Co-op to remotely read the meters, monitor the voltage, and detect outages. The meters help SMECO improve customer service and save money by reducing operational expenses.

2018

SMECO’s online Account Manager was upgraded to display energy use data obtained from smart meters.

2020

SMECO adapted quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic, transitioning 241 on-site employees to teleworkers and revising work processes to ensure social distancing. The first of the SMECO EV Recharge stations for electric vehicles went into operation in Leonardtown.

Today

With more than 169,000 services in place, SMECO is among the largest electric co-ops in the nation.