Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative’s 2023 Annual Meeting of Members is on the horizon. That presents me with an opportunity to explain how your co-op represents “the total package.”
On one hand, Blue Ridge fits the category of a hometown kind of business. Our people live here, work here, go to church here and shop and play here. We look out for the communities we serve because they are our communities. At the same time, we’re part of some bigger organizations. These associations enable us to bring you the benefits that size and sophistication offer. What follows is a summary of how these elements all work together to your benefit.
The Blue Ridge physical plant (poles, wires, substations and the like) constitutes an investment of more than $500 million. Standing alone, your cooperative would certainly command enough volume buying to claim desirable discounts on many of the items needed to stock our inventories. However, Blue Ridge and our fellow South Carolina co-ops decided decades ago that we could improve even more on that picture. Consequently, we formed a utility supply purchasing organization called CEEUS. With CEEUS now ordering even larger quantities of needed line-construction and other material on behalf of all co-ops, the discounts are considerably greater. That translates into more value for all our members.
Blue Ridge is also a member of a statewide trade association—The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina (ECSC). ECSC is staffed by professionals who provide leadership in vital areas such as government relations and legal matters. Also, during major storm emergencies, the association plays an important role in coordinating the deployment of repair crews. That entails securing linemen and other operations employees from neighboring co-ops. Those workers are then directed to assist fellow co-ops where the storm has produced widespread power outages.
Our state’s cooperatives even pool resources when it comes to economic development. The SC Power Team is the arm of South Carolina’s electric cooperatives that helps us recruit industries (and their associated jobs and investments) to our area. Furthermore, these types of businesses buy larger volumes of power. This helps to hold our costs down, thereby reducing upward pressure on your retail rates.
Lastly, Blue Ridge and the state’s 19 other cooperatives own and control Central Electric Power Cooperative for one purpose—to secure the absolute best wholesale electricity rate for you, our members. While Blue Ridge is a comparatively large cooperative, buying electric energy together with 19 other co-ops enables us to get the best deal on wholesale power for you. Furthermore, since Central oversees our pooled generation and transmission needs, your cooperative can focus on why we were created—the distribution of electricity throughout our service territory.
All these ingredients work together to enable Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative to realize its top two goals--delivering quality service and providing that service at affordable rates.
Electric cooperatives were chartered in the 1930s and ’40s to serve the areas that investor-owned utilities had deemed unprofitable because they were sparsely populated. While this makes our task challenging, the hard work of the team at Blue Ridge and at our critical partner organizations allows us to deliver both reliability and affordability to you.
President and CEO