CUSTOMER SPOTLIGHT: BLUE RIDGE ELECTRIC COOPERATIVEDECEMBER 6, 2021| kaylar
“Remember why you started.”
81 years ago, Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative (BREC) was officially chartered to begin servicing electricity to five counties in northwestern South Carolina. The mission was to provide service second only to safety, and to bring electricity to rural SC. The fledgling co-op wasted no time and in January, 1941 (only five months later), BREC energized its first section of power lines.
Blue Ridge was formed to bring power to the districts of Greenville, Spartanburg, Pickens, Oconee and Anderson. In 1978, the last known cottage without power within BREC’s region was illuminated.
From there, Blue Ridge only grew. When chartered, BREC inherited 1,680 members and 486 miles of power lines from the REA (Rural Electrification Act), and the membership fee was $5. Now, the co-op has surpassed 70,000 members and 7,000 miles of power lines, and the membership fee is still $5!
BREC has always been service driven and community-centered. Whenever a major power outage takes place, Blue Ridge employees work around the clock until the electricity is restored. Blue Ridge provides showers, food and blankets for employees while they stay at the office or on the field until everything is back online. Prime example: back in 2005, an ice storm knocked out 85% of BREC’s members’ power as well as 276 poles and 79 feeder lines. Five days later, all power was restored thanks to BREC employees and over 350 linemen.
In addition to working hard to keep members satisfied and powered up, BREC also reaches out to the community in the form of their annual Blue Ridge Fest. All proceeds from these festivals go to local human assistance charities. In the inaugural year, the event raised over 2 million. The Westminister office also has a large space available for community events.
Blue Ridge has recently partnered with West Carolina Telephone Cooperative to provide fiber to their service region. BREC’s Upcountry Fiber runs straight into each member’s house, providing quick connections and symmetrical speed. The project is ongoing and expanding quickly.
With so much history and so much accomplished, Blue Ridge decided to commemorate their time serving their region. Early 2020 saw the start of BREC’s impressive timeline project now being displayed in the hallway just outside the Westminister community room. Daja Davidson, BREC’s Marketing Specialist, spent countless hours during the first 2020 quarantine period pouring through 80 years of Blue Ridge history. Slowly but surely, the content, design and production of the timeline all came together.
According to Daja, Blue Ridge wanted to tell the story of what they’ve done for their members and why. The 4-wall display is a celebration of BREC’s accomplishments over the past 80 years as well as a beacon of hope of all that can be accomplished in the future. One popular portion of the display is the collage mural with photos pulled from the past 80 years.
The timeline features a comprehensive history of Blue Ridge Electric Cooperation compiled by Daja Davidson and designed by Morgan Holcomb, a lit logo display from Masstar, and floor to ceiling wall murals and a 3D timeline built with varying thicknesses of varying types of substrates from SpeedPro Greenville. However, this display only stretches across part of the hall, leaving plenty of space for Blue Ridge to continue building its legacy.