On September 6, 1938, a group of Lee County, Virginia residents came together to organize an electric co-operative. The group consisted of John Reasor (Big Stone Gap), W. W. Jessee ( Dryden), Mrs. B. T., Young (Duffield), Loran Roop (Jonesville), Davis L. McNiel ( Jonesville), James Quillen (Ocoonita) and Rhea D. Hyatt ( Rose Hill).
They wanted to bring electricity to Lee, Scott and Wise Counties. A short 14 months later the lives of rural Lee County residents would be changed forever. By November 4, 1939, electric lights dotted the country side and the lives of Lee County residents were changed forever. Initially there were 134 members of the cooperative, and within a 10 day period that figure increased to 280. By the time the first meter was read on December 20, 1939, the number leaped to 340 members.
Initially, the average rate for electricity was $2.00 per month. In 1940 the
average bill had increased to $2.12 per month and Davis McNiel was the first Powell Valley Electric manager.
Eventually electric extensions were made to the Robbins Chapel & Keokee areas in Lee County and to sections of Hancock, Hawkins and Claiborne Counties in Tennessee.