Electricity Comes to Pine Island

Lee County Electric Cooperative has been serving Southwest Florida’s energy needs since 1940 when orange grove owner George Judd sold the North Fort Myers Mariana Grove power plant to the members who lived in North Fort Myers. Homer T.Welch was the company’s first member of management when LCEC began with 15 miles of distribution line and 158 members, which was about one percent of Lee County’s population at the time.

Within its first year of operation, LCEC offered service to Pine Island, Sanibel and Captiva. In 1941, LCEC retired the Mariana Grove generating plant and signed a contract with Florida Power & Light to purchase power for members at a wholesale rate.

World War II prevented further expansion, but following the war, LCEC purchased the surplus transmission line running from the Buckingham Air Force Base.  Credit LCEC.

So in 1941, when Pine Island just gets electricity, the United States goes to war and there is a total blackout after dark on the islands.  So for the next four years, everyone had to watch TV in the dark.  Just kidding, home windows had to be covered with black material, and no campfires were allowed.  And for those years the fishermen were not supposed to out on the water after dark.

The LCEC heavy transmissions lines crossed Matlacha Pass and came onto Pine Island at the old Master’s Grove community just south of Flamingo Bay.  A sign and fence mark the area today.

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