The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 78, July 1974 - April, 1975 Page: 154
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154 Southwestern Historical Quarterly
ceived 53 percent of all SPA electricity. The rest of the power was dis-
tributed among municipal districts and some private interests."
Rural electric rates on farms served by the SPA have steadily declined.
In 1941 the average wholesale rate for electric energy to rural cooperatives
in Texas and Oklahoma was 1.o09 cents per kilowatt-hour. By 1945 this
average had dropped to 8.4 mills. By 1950 the average rate was further
reduced to 5.7 mills. Such rates were comparable to those of the Tennessee
Valley Authority and lower than the rural rates in several other sections
of the country.'
Examination of the origins of the SPA reveals how a vital but little-
known part of the United States rural electric program evolved under the
guiding hand of Speaker Rayburn. He was not the sole instigator, but he
was the most powerful protagonist for the use of water resources for agri-
cultural improvement. In the case of the Denison project, which served as
the seed of the SPA grid, he was the principal governing force from the
earliest conception of the dam to its final completion. His support of the
Norfork structure by his intervention at the critical moment in I943 kept
that dam, as well as many others, out of private hands. No one else had
the prestige and authority to cut through the indecision over and opposition
to public power within Roosevelt's wartime administration. And through-
out the postwar period when SPA negotiated to exchange energy with elec-
tric companies on one front and sought appropriations on another, it was
Rayburn who saved the program, time after time. The outcome surely
would not have been as favorable to the rural electric interests if he had
not been there. Not to be overlooked, too, was the decision to avoid com-
petition and to utilize the resources efficiently through cooperation, for,
with the growing need for careful resource management, Rayburn's prefer-
ence for cooperation takes on greater importance every day.
The keys to Rayburn's success were his political wisdom and his sources
of political strength-ranging from grassroots support at home to his per-
sonal relationship with two presidents. His constituents gave him an intense
and fierce loyalty, and he drew upon their devotion to show popular sup-
port for the project. His easy access to the Oval Office of the White House
came from his long commitment to the Democratic party and his key sup-
port for the occupants of that office.
ssIbid. The figures of the distribution of SPA energy are: REA co-ops, 53 percent;
municipalities, I2 percent; defense industry and installations, 13 percent; and private
utility companies, 22 percent.
4oSouthwestern Power Administration, History of the SPA, 3.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 78, July 1974 - April, 1975, periodical, 1974/1975; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117149/m1/189/: accessed January 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.