Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative, Inc.
Who we are:
Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative, Inc. is a member-owned, not-for-profit distribution utility that, as of 2015, serves more than 64,000 members in the Upstate of South Carolina. Headquartered in Pickens, S.C., the cooperative supplies electric power to portions of Anderson, Greenville, Oconee, Pickens, and Spartanburg counties. In addition to the Pickens location, Blue Ridge maintains three other offices situated in Westminster, Anderson, and Travelers Rest. There are 20 electric-distribution cooperatives in South Carolina. Blue Ridge is the fourth-largest. Together these 20 systems serve more than 750,000 households and businesses and have been assigned exclusive service responsibilities for about 75 percent of the state’s land area.
The cooperative was organized on August 14, 1940. Blue Ridge began operations having inherited 1,680 customers from the old S.C. Rural Electrification Authority. At the time the cooperative was chartered, only two percent of South Carolina farms enjoyed the convenience of central-station power, verses 100 percent today. Presently, Blue Ridge serves its 64,000-plus members over 7,000 miles of power lines energized through 35 substations. The cooperative currently employs about 140 individuals and also utilizes a number of contract crews in its line-construction and maintenance program. Another 80 employees work at the cooperative’s subsidiary, Blue Ridge Security Solutions. Founded in 1995, Blue Ridge Security has experienced rapid growth and is now ranked among the top 100 of America’s 3,000 security providers. The security company markets its products and services to residential, commercial, and industrial customers, with the preponderance of the accounts served falling into the C&I category.
As a member-owned utility, Blue Ridge places a premium on supplying dependable service to those members. Every aspect of the cooperative’s operation is member-driven, as opposed to profit-driven. Cutting-edge technology is in use throughout the Blue Ridge work environment, but the cooperative’s human touch ensures that the member receives the highest priority. That is a guiding philosophy of the cooperative business model. Blue Ridge endeavors to operate to the fullest extent possible in accordance with those cooperative principles. The cooperative also is a leader in promoting economic development within its 1,800-square-mile territory. In 1996, the S.C. General Assembly approved the Rural Development Act. As a result, all the state’s taxpaying utilities have been empowered to divert up to $400,000 in annual license-tax obligations to fund local job-creating infrastructure. Otherwise, those dollars would flow directly to Columbia to support the state’s general budget. Since 1996, Blue Ridge has applied more than $6,000,000 in RDA funds toward industrial-park land purchases, shell-building construction, water and sewer system extensions, and road improvements. These financial contributions have helped to bring new industries and thousands of additional jobs to the Upstate.