The certificate of incorporation for Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation (BEMC) was filed with the Secretary of State of North Carolina on March 9, 1939. In August, 1939, a contract with Melvin F. Burgess of Boone was approved for the initial construction of 138 miles of line, 113 in Brunswick County and 25 in Columbus. A metering point was established with Tidewater Power Company at Belville and 3 - 50 KVA transformers were installed for a substation. The first lines of BEMC were energized in Brunswick County in December, 1939 and in Columbus County in the early part of 1940. These lines served a total of approximately 588 members in both counties.
In 1960, BEMC was in it's 21st year of operation with over 10,000 member/consumers. A new 10,000 KVA sub-station was installed in 1961 to supply power over the 69 KV transmission line to Shallotte and Midway. A new 3,750 KVA sub-station was installed in Columbus County in 1964 bringing the number of sub-stations owned by BEMC to 10.
The new Oak Island branch office was opened in 1968, the same year CP&L announced their proposed nuclear generating plant to be located in Brunswick County. The following year BEMC purchased all electrical facilities on Caswell Beach.
BEMC expanded the meter reading program to 100% of the membership in 1981. The first Load Management Switch, which allows BEMC to monitor the amount of power being used and work at maximum efficiency, was installed in the service are on Sunset Beach in may 1984.
The Rural Consumer Services Corporation, a subsidiary of BEMC was established in 1986 as Brunswick EMC recognized the need for a stronger economic development program for Brunswick and Columbus counties. Over the next few years, RCSC set up three Business Incubators to facilitate new and expanding business. The incubator locations in Whiteville and Tabor City are fully operational and the one in Winnabow was eventually sold to a successful tenant.
June of 1991 was another milestone with the "Bringin on Line" of the Bricklanding Substation, the first built by BEMC employees. In 2008, BEMC members are served by a total of 41 sub-stations (10 transmission/switching and 31 distribution stations).
BEMC has consistently been a leader in implementing new technologies to increase efficiency. Its dispatch center and mapping system is one of the most advanced of all North Carolina electric co-ops. BEMC was among the first co-ops in the nation to offer a prepaid power program, and serves as model for others.
BEMC has also been a national leader in installing services underground. Over 50% of all new lines are now underground, protected from the effects of severe weatherthat is common in the area, as well as from the corrosive effects of salt air. This has provided enhanced reliability throughout the system. In 2001 BEMC was awarded a $6.2 million mitigation grant from FEMA to convert 88 miles of overhead line to underground in highly vulnerable coastal areas.
In 2008 the cop-op completed conversion of its meters to an AMR (Automated Meter Reading) system, allowing for remote reading of meters, improved service for members, and collection of valuable data for monitoring and forecasting demand for electricity.
As of December 31, 2008, BEMC served more than 85,000 locations in Brunswick and Columbus counties, and parts of Robeson and Bladen counties. It is now the second largest electric cooperative in the state of North Carolina, and 34th largest of over 900 NRECA co-ops across the nation.