Equipped to serve
During a recent cold-snap that saw temperatures plummet to the teens in some areas, a Facebook post was sent questioning if Blue Ridge would be able to keep the power on during this time of below normal temperatures. If you’ve had any doubts about the reliability of the Blue Ridge system, we want to put your mind at rest.
Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative operates as a distributor of retail electric service to more than 67,000 member locations across a five-county region of upstate South Carolina. The cooperative’s 7,100-mile network of power lines and associated facilities provides the physical infrastructure for delivering this service.
At the wholesale level, Blue Ridge buys 100 percent of its power requirements from Central Electric Power Cooperative, headquartered in Columbia, S.C. Central secures power supplies for Blue Ridge and the state’s other 19 electric-distribution cooperatives. Electricity purchases that Central negotiates at the wholesale level come primarily from three utilities that operate in-state generating plants:
- Santee Cooper
- Duke Energy
- Southeastern Power Administration
Among them, these utilities own ample power-production facilities. Consequently, they are well-equipped to meet, well into the future, the bourgeoning needs of the Central-served alignment of cooperatives. About 1.5 million South Carolinians are now powered by electric cooperatives, and that number is expanding rapidly.
Throughout its service territory, Blue Ridge has, at present, 35 distribution substations in strategic electrical-load centers. Electricity is supplied to these substations via high-voltage transmission lines, where the power is then stepped down by transformers to distribution voltage. The power lines from these substations move the electricity to the individual member locations. At each of these locations, a smaller transformer then steps the voltage down further to serve the needs of a home, business or industry.
As a member-owned power provider, Blue Ridge and its employee team place a premium on the delivery of quality service. The cooperative business model motivates the organization to maintain an emphasis on quality so that service to the member continues to improve. Much of that focus is being directed toward the ongoing addition of strength to the distribution system. For example, the cooperative plans to bring several more substations on line within the next few years. Each time a new substation is energized, that automatically translates into a higher level of service reliability for considerable numbers of members. At the same time, four-year engineering work plans are being employed to ensure that the existing distribution plant is kept in tip-top condition. These plans are also backed by funding that will underwrite the cost of extending power lines into new areas where service is needed.
The bottom line is that Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative is equipped to serve. Its goal is to keep getting better at what it does, and the byproduct of that commitment is continuous enhancement of the service delivered to its members.