13 POWER TO THE PEOPLE CHAPTER ONE This forward march into the modern era sounds like destiny. But the electric and telephone co-ops were moving out of their comfort zone into a world with its own language, protocols, hardware — and risks. Arnold Ketterling, Manager of EDP, proved that data processing could make cooperatives more efficient. Unfortu- nately, it wasn’t yet financially viable. When EDP transferred its assets and debts to the newly formed North Central Data Cooperative (NCDC) in May 1968, NCDC inherited 39 Members in nine states with approximately 103,000 accounts. The mainframe cost $6,000 to $7,000 a month — more than all the NCDC staff salaries combined — and the costs outweighed revenue. “The cash position of NCDC is causing serious problems and demands prompt attention to prevent serious conse- quences,” a finance report to the Board stated. By March 1969, NCDC had raised its per-customer rate to 25 cents and considered expanding its applications to include payroll, inventory, work orders, pole surveys, load flow analysis and other operational and accounting needs. NCDC’s founders knew it was vital for this fledgling enter- prise to succeed. “The regional computer is the modern tool that makes for better service to all cooperatives, both large and small, and we have served the man at the end of the line much fairer and more efficiently,” Board President Clarence Welander said at the company’s first Annual Meeting. “This is a modern tool that is here to stay.” On June 6, 1967, about 800 miles away down the winding Missouri River, 48 people from 10 states met in the Chase Park Plaza, a majestic, art deco–style hotel in midtown St. Louis. They agreed to move forward independently from their state electric cooperative associations, proceeding with a $25,000 feasibility study NRECA had completed that would help define their “total management information center.” About two months later, they formed Central Area Data Processing Corporation, charging Members $1 per customer account as a start-up fee. Ten cents of that was nonrefundable, and 90 cents represented a five-year loan, to be paid back with 3 percent interest. They hoped to raise $200,000. Jim Lockley, a pioneer in data processing, moved Arnold Ketterling, Manager of the Electronic Data Processing division of the North Dakota statewide, helped establish NCDC.