Little River announces new headquarters plans

WCTEL land purchase marks milestone for sister cooperatives

 

April 30, 2024

Abbeville, SC — The sale of a 13-acre land parcel from West Carolina Rural Telephone Cooperative (WCTEL) to Little River Electric Cooperative (Little River) marks the beginning of an exciting chapter, as it sets the stage for the construction of a state-of-the-art headquarters for the Abbeville-based electric cooperative. Situated conveniently along the Hwy 28 Bypass adjacent to WCTEL, this new headquarters marks a new milestone for the 83-year-old Little River.

Jeff Lewis, general manager of Little River, says the cooperative’s consistent growth is the primary motivation behind the initiative. “We’ve experienced steady growth year after year,” Lewis explains. “In fact, our system expanded by just over 3 percent in 2022, with the addition of 381 meters — a 44 percent increase in new connections since 2020.”

Residential expansion is the primary driver behind Little River’s growth. “Our current headquarters is 80 years old,” Lewis says. “It has served us well, but to ensure continued growth, innovation, and enhanced member service, we must adapt for the future.”

Jeff Wilson, WCTEL CEO, says this move is just another example of cooperative principles in action. “Cooperation among cooperatives is fundamental, and we’ve had a longstanding partnership with Little River. With many shared members, being neighbors will enhance collaboration and streamline service for our members and customers.”

Lewis underscores the strategic advantage of the new location in expediting member service, particularly during outages. “It will afford us a faster, more direct route to assist our members,” he says.

Planned to be 12,000 to 15,000 square feet, the new headquarters will address the pressing need for expanded space. Lewis says, “This modern facility will accommodate our current operational needs, along with our fleet and equipment, while positioning us for continued growth. It will foster enhanced member experience and underscores our commitment to community investment.”

While a groundbreaking date has not been scheduled, Lewis anticipates construction will begin within the next nine to 12 months, with completion slated for some time in 2026. “We’re approaching this project with careful consideration,” he says. “Financially sound and thoughtfully planned, this project reflects our dedication to responsible growth and meeting the needs of our members and employees.”

“We couldn’t be more pleased to welcome Little River as our neighbor,” Wilson says. “This represents an exciting future for our cooperatives and for our community, one that is embodied in progress, people and purpose.”

 

About Little River Electric Cooperative

Little River Electric is a member-owned rural electric cooperative in Upstate South Carolina. Founded in 1940 and located in the historic city of Abbeville, Little River provides service to more than 14,000 residential, and industrial members.

Little River’s daily service reaches consumers in Abbeville, Anderson, Greenwood, McCormick counties, and Savannah Lakes Village Resort.

Little River Electric is a Touchstone Energy Cooperative and a member of the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). To learn more, visit https://lreci.coop

About WCTEL

WCTEL (West Carolina Rural Telephone Cooperative, Inc.) was formed in 1952. Since its beginning, West Carolina has not only met its primary goal of providing basic telephone service to the rural areas of Abbeville and McCormick counties and the Starr and Iva areas of Anderson County, but has also been able to provide the enhanced services others have come to expect in metropolitan areas of the United States.

As new services were being developed, West Carolina renewed its commitment to giving customers access to the latest in advanced technologies, including overbuilding its network with fiber to keep stay ahead of the demand for more bandwidth and advanced communications. To learn more, visit www.wctel.com.