The American Innovation $1 Coin representing Tennessee recognizes the formation of the Tennessee Valley Authority. In 1933, Congress created the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to construct transmission lines to serve “farms and small villages that are not otherwise supplied with electricity at reasonable rates.” As late as the mid-1930s, nine out of ten rural homes were without electric service.
The TVA built 16 hydroelectric dams in the Tennessee Valley between 1933 and 1944. Through the power of the TVA projects, Tennessee quickly became the nation’s largest public utility supplier.
The TVA organized an experimental farmer-owned rural electric cooperative to serve the area around Tupelo, Mississippi. The cooperative succeeded, and the federal government created a special agency dedicated solely to rural electrification, the Rural Electrification Administration (REA).
The REA gave loans and other help to rural organizations setting up their own power systems. By 1939, the REA had helped to establish 417 rural electric cooperatives across the United States. Most rural electrification is the product of these cooperatives.