Originally created 10/06/01

Aiken Electric to break ground on offices



AIKEN - In a move to improve customer service, Aiken Electric Cooperative Inc. will break ground on a 34,000-square-foot headquarters building Tuesday.

The roomier building will be on the property of the existing headquarters on Wagener Road.

The company's board of trustees said consumer desire for expanded parking and a more spacious lobby with greater customer service opportunities are motivators behind the expansion.

After a cost comparison, the board decided it would be wiser to build anew rather than pour more money into the existing headquarters, constructed in 1958.

"Aiken Electric Cooperative has been providing quality service to our member-owners for more than six decades," Chief Executive Officer Gary Stooksbury said. "Our new headquarters building will help us continue the tradition."

Beyond the obvious physical improvements, other changes might not be as apparent to the public.

The building will house a larger customer call center for answering questions, a modern 24-hour dispatch center, a new warehouse and plenty of unused room to expand internally.

The plan is to demolish the old building on completion of the new facility.

The cooperative, which has growing member base, operates through substations on its properties. It purchases power from Santee Cooper.

Electric cooperatives are consumer-owned electric companies. A board of trustees acts solely in the interest of the members, rather than with private shareholders in mind.

Aiken Electric also has offices in Edgefield, New Ellenton and North, in Orangeburg County.

Reach Eric Williamson at (803) 648-1395 or scbureau@augustachronicle.com.