The Year in Review: 2012
The co-op saw another sustained period of successful operation in 2012. It was a year of progress, with Blue Ridge emerging as an even stronger organization.
Safety & training — the Blue Ridge workforce ended 2012 with zero lost-time accidents for 16 straight months. Additionally, in the last 45 months, our employees have recorded only one such accident. The co-op team has embraced a culture of safety, and that continues to be our top priority.
Financial — On December 31, Blue Ridge finished its fourth consecutive year without a change in the price members pay per kilowatt-hour for their electricity. It is our goal to keep our rates stable for all of 2013 as well. Government regulations proposed at the federal level threaten to add considerably to the price of power. The co-op will fight to forestall any unfavorable actions in Washington, while striving to hold down our other costs.
Construction & maintenance — construction crews stayed busy with 16 major power-line conversions enumerated in the four-year Engineering Work Plan. These included converting single-phase lines to three phase, upgrading existing three-phase lines, and relocating lines from wooded areas to new routes alongside roadways. One new substation was erected, and another station was relocated and rebuilt. In 2013, our construction program is placing even more emphasis on improving system reliability.
Service reliability — full right-of-way maintenance was accomplished on all or part of eight substation systems in 2012. More than 1,500 vegetation-maintenance service orders were also completed, and they addressed potential problem areas at various locations across the Blue Ridge territory. Service quality goes hand in hand with a regular cycle of right-of-way clearing, and this board is intent upon supporting these ongoing efforts.
Economic development — the quality of life in any community is closely tied to quality jobs. The co-op sought to encourage job creation last year with its allotted Rural Development Act funds. With board approval, these dollars were directed in support of both a land purchase for a proposed industrial park and infrastructure improvements at a sizable commercial development. Since 1996, more than $5 million in RDA funds has served to facilitate industry recruitment in the Blue Ridge service area, and thoughtful consideration will again be given to the distribution of these resources in 2013.
Member service — enhanced efficiency meant greater benefits for co-op members in 2012. Employment of new technologies eliminated volumes of paperwork and served to reduce personnel costs. Additional avenues of communicating and transacting business with the co-op were also implemented. These included opening a Facebook account and developing a Blue Ridge App that can be downloaded on either an IPhone or an Android mobile device. Our employees continue to place a premium on the delivery of high-caliber service.
Capital credits — another $1,000,000 was refunded to members in 2012, our 30th straight annual payment. Additional dividends of $1,000,000 are set to be returned this month to those who were co-op members in 1986. Total capital-credit returns through the years have now reached $21,200,000. The regular refunding of patronage capital has the enthusiastic endorsement of this board, and we will seek to maintain this practice in the years to come.
Community service — with almost $707,000 in drugstore savings realized during 2012, Blue Ridge ranked as the number-one cooperative in the nation in the use of the free Co-op Connections Card. Literally thousands of Blue Ridge members are partaking of these pharmacy discounts, which have climbed to $2,065,000 since the program kicked off here in May 2009. The Blue Ridge Fest 2012 charity fund-raiser produced $171,000 in net proceeds—a new record. These badly needed dollars were disbursed among 13 area human-assistance agencies that serve thousands of individuals and families, including many co-op members. With a 15-year track record, Blue Ridge Fest has now donated more than $1.4 million to local charitable organizations.
This board of directors and our excellent employee team are all focused on safety, on service quality, and on keeping electricity affordable for our members. We are grateful for the wonderful support we receive from so many of you who belong to the Blue Ridge family. You have our sincere commitment to continue to look out for your interests in 2013 and in the years that follow.
Annual financial statement