On April 7, 1934, Gov. Ibra C. Blackwood signed into law an act that created the South Carolina Public Service Authority, more commonly known as Santee Cooper.
It was the culmination of more than 150 years' worth of efforts to tap the Santee and Cooper rivers for economic development and it resulted in what stands today as South Carolina's largest power producer and one of the largest public-power utilities in the U.S.
In his book, "History of Santee Cooper: 1934-1984," noted South Carolina historian Dr. Walter Edgar characterizes the years between the Civil War and World War II as a desperate time in South Carolina where job opportunities were scant and living conditions were dire.
"For the vast majority of South Carolinians who lived on farms, the 1930s could have just as easily been the 1830s," Edger writes. "As beautiful and timeless as the Carolina landscape appeared to the casual observer during the 1930s, life was difficult. Families struggled for survival, to eke out a living using centuries old farming techniques. There were no labor saving devices available to assist the farmer or his wife and children with their chores. Life went on as it had for generations."
Edgar writes one of the major reasons Santee Cooper was created was to electrify the rural reaches of the state. The 1935 creation of the Rural Electrification Administration spurred the growth and development of electrical cooperatives in South Carolina, and as soon as Santee Cooper began producing electricity in 1942, some cooperatives began purchasing its power.
That partnership continues to power South Carolina, through all 46 counties, today.