By Jesse Wood
Dec. 4, 2013. Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation is moving along with renovations to its district office and operations facility off of U.S. 421 in Watauga County that began in June. If that woolly worm is correct and our winter is milder than normal, construction is expected to end by early summer.
Since June, BREMCO and Blue Ridge Energies customers have stopped by the temporary office located on Shadowline Drive in Boone to pay bills and speak to staff in person. Customers have found the new location so convenient that BREMCO is considering a payment kiosk central to town in the future, Renee Whitener, a BREMCO spokesperson, said. In the meantime, Whitener noted that customers can pay bills at any Check Free location such as Walmart, K-Mart and The Sock Shop.
Expansion of its U.S. 421 facility came about because BREMCO has outgrown the space, more of which is needed to accommodate large service trucks, power poles and other equipment needed for maintenance and operations of the electric system that serves the community. Focus has been on BREMCO’s warehouse space and pole yard.
“Watauga is our largest district and over the years as we’ve grown, we’ve found we’re running out of room needed for operations,” Whitener said in an email. “This is especially true during storms when we need to accommodate additional crews, equipment and everything needed to get power restored quickly.”
These changes will also improve safety for line technicians and outdoor crews, a prior release noted.
Whitener added that once the renovated facility re-opens, members of the public may reserve and use the expanded community room for meetings.
“We’ve had a community room available here, and we received a lot of demand for its use,” Whitener said. “So we believe it will provide a member and community benefit that will be well utilized.”
Blue Ridge Electric serves some 74,000 members in Watauga, Caldwell, Ashe, Alleghany, Wilkes, Avery and Alexander counties. Its subsidiary, Blue Ridge Energies, provides residential and commercial customers with propane, heating fuels and products such as gas logs, water heaters, generators and more from each Blue Ridge Electric district office.
Blue Ridge Electric offers convenient ways to do business online and by phone at any hour of the day or night: find account information, pay their bill and get other information at www.BlueRidgeEMC.com; or call 294-8894 for automated options such as to pay by phone, grant an extension of payment, or to speak to a member service representative. Blue Ridge Energies customers can pay online and see products and services at www.BlueRidgeEnergies.com. Customer service is available by calling 264-3521.
Release About Temporary Facility on Shadowline Drive
Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation and the cooperative’s propane and heating fuels subsidiary, Blue Ridge Energies, LLC, are now using the former High Country Bank building at 176 Shadowline Drive in Boone, close to Harris Teeter, as a temporary customer service office.
The temporary office on Shadowline Drive will serve members of Blue Ridge Electric and customers of Blue Ridge Energies as their payment and customer service office until renovations are complete at the office and operations facilities on Hwy. 421 South. Changes are being made to improve safety for line technicians and outdoor crews.
“We look forward to serving people from this very accessible but temporary facility,” said Susan Jones, Watauga district manager. “We also appreciate everyone’s patience as we make improvements to the Watauga district office that will result in even better service from that location, as well as a roomier area for crews to work more efficiently and safely. We’ll even offer a 24/7 payment kiosk once the renovation is complete.”