7/31/2018 – Blue Ridge Energy plans to build new headquarters in Lenoir

Posted on: July 31st, 2018 by admin


July 31, 2018


By Guy Lucas
(Lenoir) News-Topic


The regional electric cooperative that is based in Lenoir plans to build a new corporate office to replace its current headquarters building.


Blue Ridge Energy plans a brief groundbreaking ceremony for the $18 million project on Aug. 15 on the company’s campus at the northwest corner of Nuway Circle and Blowing Rock Boulevard, a press release said. Construction is expected to be completed in early 2020.


Headquarters operations space will increase from the current 32,000 square feet to 48,000 square feet in the new building.


The old building, which was built about 50 years ago, will be torn down to make way for a new parking area for employees.


The new Blue Ridge Energy headquarters building will signify a new era for the electric cooperative, which first brought electricity to Caldwell County in 1936, CEO Doug Johnson said in the press release.


“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,” Johnson said. “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.”


Blue Ridge Energy’s management and board of directors decided to build a new headquarters rather than renovate the old one after estimates for renovation came in close to the cost for a new building. Other considerations included that new construction would pose minimal disruption and be complete in approximately 18 months.


The cost of the new building will not affect electricity rates because costs have been carefully planned and spread out over the next 30 years, requiring no debt for the new facility, the press release said.


One of the features of the new office touted in the press release is a weather-hardened dispatch and operations center, which is the hub for monitoring 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.


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 project will be the final part of a company-wide building modernization effort. The district offices in Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany counties have all been rebuilt or renovated in the past decade — the Caldwell district office was completed in June 2017 — 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 now 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.


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, which now serves 29,000 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.


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