The public is invited to an open house on Tuesday, July 29, for the newly renovated district office of Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation and its heating fuels subsidiary, Blue Ridge Energies.
A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. Light refreshments and facility tours will be ongoing throughout the day to share how the facility was renovated for safer operations and to better serve the cooperative's largest district, especially during outages.
During the open house, the cooperative's propane and heating fuels subsidiary, Blue Ridge Energies, will be offering one-day only specials: 30 percent off all gas logs and fireplace items, greater discounts on clearance showroom items, and $7 propane cylinder refills. Grilling demonstrations will also be held.
Over the years, the number of members served from the cooperative's Watauga district office has grown to more than 30,000. The renovated facility enables staff to provide faster, more efficient response to outages and cold weather operations with an expanded garage and warehouse.
“Our service fleet will be able to better respond to both emergencies and regular maintenance work,” said Steve Woodring, Watauga operations manager. “We also have a larger warehouse in which to safely store the many supplies needed for system maintenance and repairs,” he added.
Woodring added that the facilities for vehicles as well as for linemen will be especially helpful during times of wide-spread crisis such as the ice storm of 2009 when Blue Ridge Electric called in many additional extra crews to assist with outage restoration after severe weather–and outages–extended for days.
The renovated office includes a drive-through service window and a second drive-through featuring a new payment kiosk available for member use at any time of the night or day. The payment kiosk center accepts cash, checks, or debit and credit cards.
Also included is a larger community meeting room available for use by civic groups when not in use for cooperative meetings. Groups should call ahead to discuss reservations and check availability with the district office. “This will be a very helpful resource for our members and the community,” said Susan Jones, Watauga district manager. “It is for occasional meetings and the room, which includes bathroom facilities, can accommodate around 100 people,” she added.
In addition to serving electric members, the Watauga office also serves customers of the cooperative's propane and heating fuels subsidiary, Blue Ridge Energies. The office includes an Energies showroom featuring gas logs, indoor and outdoor hearth items, fireplaces, water heaters and backup propane powered generators. Also on the grounds are the operations facilities for Blue Ridge Energies which include a bulk propane and oil storage plant.
“Our employees are excited about the improved member service and safety features of our newly renovated office,” said Jones.
The Watauga district office is located at 2491 Hwy 421 South and is open from 8:30 to 5 p.m.
Blue Ridge Electric serves some 74,000 members in Watauga, Caldwell, Ashe, Alleghany, Wilkes, Avery and Alexander counties. Learn more at BlueRidgeEMC.com.