A quality standby-generator program

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When this year’s calendar reached April 1st, you could almost hear a collective sigh of relief at Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative.  The latest winter season was behind us, and we had finished those cold months without experiencing a damaging storm emergency.  Little did we know . . . .

Early on April 13th, a strong weather system crossed the Blue Ridge service area, spawning three separate tornados and an accompanying array of extremely bad weather.  In multiple locations across five counties, more than 36,000 of our 67,000-plus members lost power.  The epicenter of the destruction occurred in and around the City of Seneca.  There, a powerful EF-3 tornado, with wind speeds measuring 160 mph, made a direct hit on a transmission line, severely damaging four steel poles.  That line is the power source for seven of the co-op’s substations.

In response, Blue Ridge roused every resource at our disposal to attack the widespread annihilation.  That included bringing in 300 extra linemen from outside our service area to assist with repairs.  Transmission-line specialists and a fleet of heavy equipment were also called upon to address replacement of the downed high-voltage facilities.

Tremendous effort

Long story short, all the trouble was cleared up within 66 hours (2.75 days).  Believe me, that end result represented a tremendous effort on the part of all who had a hand in bringing this challenge under control.  A power outage is always difficult; however, the added threat posed by COVID 19 brought new problems.  Additional crews were harder to find, work in the field was more difficult due to added distancing restrictions and the constant stress of providing a new “safe” environment was ever present.     

Truthfully, the entire cooperative workforce takes absolutely no pleasure in seeing any of our members experience a power outage.  Consequently, we keep dispatchers by the telephone around the clock and maintenance crews always at the ready, in the event a service interruption does occur.  In addition, our daily operation is largely focused on a construction work plan that’s building more strength and reliability into the Blue Ridge system of power lines.

Blue Ridge Energy Services

For several years now, the cooperative’s Energy Services group has been in the business of equipping member homes with uninterrupted electric service.  We proudly market Generac units, recognized as America’s best-selling brand of home backup generators.  They run on either natural gas or propane and can restore power within seconds after an outage hits.  Whether the member is at home or away, the generator is quick to get up to speed in its production of electricity.  Once the Blue Ridge repair crew has restored service, the self-regulating generator then ceases its operation.

Before the next unexpected storm, I encourage you to contact our Blue Ridge Energy Services professionals.  They offer a free onsite consultation, a yearly maintenance plan, 24-hour storm response, and warranty work by a certified Generac technician.  What’s more, the cooperative makes available an attractive mechanism for members to pay for their generator installation over five years at a low six-percent interest rate.  This is just one way we’re working to be your trusted energy experts.


Jim Lovinggood

President CEO