Blue Ridge Energy Wins National Communications Award

Blue Ridge Energy received the 2018 Edgar F. Chesnutt Award for Best Total Communication Program at last week’s CONNECT Conference in Salt Lake City – the highest honor given through the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s (NRECA) Spotlight on Excellence Awards program.

The co-op was recognized for its communications campaign promoting a new community solar program in response to consumer requests for additional renewable energy options. Through effective promotion of the program using a wide range of channels, every panel in the solar array was sold in just 10 months.

“Blue Ridge Energy’s community solar program was truly a group effort,” said John Coffey, chief operating officer for Blue Ridge Energy. “I’m proud to be recognized for our dedication to finding renewable energy options that meet our members’ needs while promoting a healthy environment.”

The co-op segmented their communications outreach into four distinct phases, a key step in successfully promoting their new community solar program. Communications methods included traditional and digital channels to reach every relevant demographic.

“Blue Ridge Energy’s impressive understanding of their consumer and community needs is clearly evident in their marketing and communications strategy in support of this new solar project,” said Scott Peterson, NRECA’s senior vice president of communications. “By working towards meeting its member expectations for renewable energy and a better future for their members, Blue Ridge Energy demonstrated a genuine concern for community. NRECA applauds their dedication and commitment to effective communications.”

Edgar F. Chesnutt, for whom the award is named, was manager of corporate communication with Arkansas Electric Cooperatives in Little Rock from 1961 until 1987. The Spotlight on Excellence Awards competition recognizes the top-rated communication and marketing efforts by electric cooperatives and related organizations. The competition is in its 30th year.

Pictured left to right: NRECA President Phil Carson, Blue Ridge COO John Coffey, PR Director Renee Whitener, Communications Manager Susan Simmons, Energy Solutions Marketing Manager Jon Jacob, Support Specialist Luanne “Cookie” Bradshaw, Member Services Director Sandra Hicks and NRECA Senior VP Communications Scott Peterson.