Lenoir, North Carolina (July 30, 2018) – Marking a new era for the electric cooperative that first brought electricity to Caldwell County in 1936, Blue Ridge Energy is beginning construction on a new corporate office to replace the original facility which was built half a century ago. A brief groundbreaking ceremony will occur on August 15.
The cooperative serves 76,000 electric members across seven counties in northwest North Carolina. The cooperative began expanding in 1998 when it formed its Propane and Fuels subsidiary company that now serves a growing base of 29,000 propane and fuels customers in the cooperative’s service area as well as Catawba and Burke counties and parts of Virginia. The cooperative further expanded in 2009 with its telecommunications subsidiary, RidgeLink, LLC, which provides dark fiber network and co-location services to businesses such as cellular providers, municipalities, health care and education institutions in North Carolina and Tennessee.
“Blue Ridge Energy’s corporate office is the hub for member and customer operations for all three of our companies and the services we provide, said Chief Executive Officer Doug Johnson. “We’re excited that the new facility will have the latest technology and capacity to meet the needs of a growing member and customer base for the next 50 years or longer,” added Johnson.
Blue Ridge Energy management and Board made the decision to build a new facility after estimates for renovating the current 50-year-old building came in close to the cost for a new building. Other considerations included the fact that new construction will pose minimal disruption and be complete in approximately 18 months.
More good news for members and the cooperative: the new building will not affect rates, as costs have been carefully planned and spread out over the next 30 years, requiring no debt for the new facility.
The $18 million dollar project will be located in front of the current corporate office located at 1216 Blowing Rock Blvd. Construction is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2020. Headquarter operations space will increase from a current 32,000 square feet to 48,000 square feet. A new parking area for employees will be located where the current corporate office building is located.
One of the most important features of the new office is a weather hardened dispatch and operations center, which is the hub for monitoring safe, reliable electricity flow—from power delivery in the foothills and high voltage transmission to mountain districts serving distribution substations and power lines to reach homes and communities. This area also serves as dispatch and coordination with line technicians and other technical personnel in the field, which is especially critical during storms and outages.
Engineering, technology, system communications, safety, human resources, community and public relations, innovative energy solutions and accounting teams are also housed in the corporate office as well as much of the technology infrastructure for the cooperative and its two subsidiaries.
The Blue Ridge Energy headquarters building marks the last of a company-wide building modernization effort to meet the needs of future generations of consumers, employees and growth of Blue Ridge Energy and its subsidiary companies. District offices in Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany counties have all been rebuilt or renovated in the past decade to incorporate safer and more efficient operations and customer service and sufficient space for warehouses and showrooms for both the electric cooperative and the Propane and Fuels subsidiary. All district offices also include community meeting rooms that can accommodate up to 50 people for community-based organizations to use at no cost when scheduled through the local district manager.