Blowing Rock, North Carolina (May 26, 2017) – Blue Ridge Energy recently energized a very important reliability and capacity project as identified in the cooperative’s long range planning to meet the needs of its members in southern Watauga County for reliable electricity.
The newly energized system includes upgrading and modernizing transmission lines from 44 kV to 100 kV, installing distribution lines underground along Hwy 321 and constructing a compact and modern substation. The system improves reliability for 6,000 home and business members in the Blowing Rock and Aho communities and has the capacity to serve the area for the next 30 to 40 years.
“In utility planning, we consider long-term meter growth, demand growth and energy growth projections by our residential, commercial and industrial consumers,” said Mike High, director of engineering. “To provide reliable electricity, we must be prepared for high growth and extreme weather scenarios,” he added. “Over the past 15 years, we’ve been upgrading power lines and substations serving the mountain communities. This project continues our major transmission line and substation upgrades as we work to provide reliable electric service to our members,” he said.
Planning for this project began in 1997 and construction started in 2007. Multiple factors impacted the project to take longer than planned, including the state’s Hwy. 321 widening project.
Blue Ridge Energy has worked closely with the town of Blowing Rock, residents and businesses in the Blowing Rock and Aho communities and the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to address reliability as well as the scenic beauty of the region. Special aspects of the project include placing underground distribution lines along the new portions of Hwy 321, underground transmission lines and a compact, modernized substation with landscaping and screening wall, as well as modern LED lighting along Hwy 321.
The final phases of the project will take place over the coming months and include converting more overhead power lines to underground and completing lighting as the DOT completes the Hwy 321 project.
Blue Ridge Energy is a member-owned electric cooperative serving some 74,000 consumers in northwest North Carolina, including Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany counties as well as parts of Avery, Wilkes and Alexander counties. For more information, visit www.BlueRidgeEnergy.com.