The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, Inc. (ECSC) is the statewide service and trade association for electric cooperatives in the state. Our members are 18 consumer-owned electric cooperatives, one wholesale power supply cooperative, one transmission service cooperative and one materials supply cooperative.
Together, they operate the largest electric distribution system in the state. More than 1.5 million South Carolinians, representing 800,000 accounts, in all 46 counties use electricity from electric cooperatives.
ECSC provides member cooperatives with communications and legal services, personnel training, safety programs and public and government relations.
In 1941, electric cooperatives in South Carolina formed an organization to represent them in the General Assembly and to offer other services more efficiently provided through shared resources. Robert D. Bennett was hired in 1950 as the first general manager and executive vice president of the South Carolina Electric Cooperative Association. (The name was later changed to The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina Inc.)
When Bennett retired in 1980, Al J. Ballard was appointed head of the organization. Ballard, a veteran lobbyist who had worked in government relations with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in Washington, D.C. and as head of the Nebraska state association, served until his retirement in 1993.
Fred Cole, who had been with the association since 1969 as the director of public relations and more later as the director of government relations, was named to head the organization in 1993. Cole retired as president and chief executive officer in 2005.
Michael N. Couick became president and chief executive officer of ECSC in October 2005. Couick had served as director of research to the S.C. Senate Judiciary Committee and chief counsel to the state Judicial Merit Selection Commission and various legislative committees.
ECSC and similar organizations in other states are commonly known in the electric cooperative industry as "statewide associations" or "statewides."
Electric cooperative associations -- like the medical association (physicians), the bar association (attorneys), or the Association of Realtors -- often provide a variety of services for their members including government relations, legal services, public relations and advertising, employee safety and training programs and insurance services.