Serving our members and our state
Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative is one of 20 member-owned power suppliers operating in South Carolina. These cooperatives range in size from 6,000 members to our biggest—a 115,000-member system. With our 69,000-plus members, Blue Ridge ranks as the fourth-largest among the Palmetto State’s co-ops. Geographically speaking, around 75 percent of the S.C. landmass has been assigned to the cooperatives as their exclusive service territories.
According to the most up-to-date numbers at my disposal, S.C. electric cooperatives are providing service to more than 825,000 metered locations that are found across all of the state’s 46 counties. As one might expect, the majority of those locations represent households. Moreover, about one-third of South Carolina’s 5.1 million residents are recipients of co-op electricity.
Unique demographics; many similarities
Each of these cooperatives possesses its own unique demographics and other characteristics. At the same time, however, there are many similarities. In my view, the most-important feature we all have in common is member ownership. This business model translates into a compelling co-op emphasis on the delivery of quality service and a striving to keep power costs as low as we can.
A good many years ago, Blue Ridge employed an engineering firm to assist with our system-planning responsibilities. Over time, the individual engineer who was assigned to our organization became a rather familiar face around here. This gentleman had provided his services to scores of co-ops, ranging from Alaska to Florida. During one of his visits, he offered a telling observation: Every one of his co-op clients—without exception—was delivering better service, compared to the other kinds of power utilities with which he had dealings.
As true today as ever
It’s my belief that particular engineer’s insight remains as true today as it’s ever been, and perhaps more so. I see it manifested in the performance of our Blue Ridge workforce. These folks are simply passionate about serving our membership well. We’re also working diligently on a number of fronts to hold down electricity rates to their lowest possible level.
At the same time, your cooperative is intent upon enhancing the livability of the communities we’re privileged to serve. That, for example, is the driving force behind our new partnership with West Carolina Telephone Co-op. By way of our Upcountry Fiber subsidiary, our two cooperatives are committed to taking high-speed internet to everyone residing in the state’s northwestern corner who might desire the service. I’m proud to report that we’re off to an excellent start with this endeavor, and I foresee nothing but substantial progress awaiting us in this New Year. We will share a forecast of our installation plans in these same pages next month.
In this report, I’ve attempted to highlight some of the major considerations that are always on our radar screen:
- Service reliability
- Community enrichment
My own 40 years of experience have demonstrated to me that Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative excels in these and a host of other areas. We’re focused on dependable service, and, as I’ve stated before, it’s our goal to keep getting better at what we do.