Retirement and promotions

Sandra Hicks of Blue Ridge Energy is retiring after a 45-year career in January, while Jason Lingle has been promoted to director of energy solutions and Crystal Spencer has been promoted to director of marketing.

LENOIR – Sandra Hicks, 45-year employee with Blue Ridge Energy, is retiring in January as director of member services responsible for overseeing member and customer care for the cooperative and its propane and fuels subsidiary.

Hicks has worked her entire career in member service, with one of her most significant accomplishments achieved recently when she led Blue Ridge Energy to the top spot in the nation for electric utility customer satisfaction on the American Consumer Satisfaction Index. Throughout her career, Hicks achieved many advancements and led the research tracking and service improvements for Blue Ridge Energy. As a recognized leader, she was asked to speak about customer service across the country as she led the effort that maintained steady satisfaction results year after year.

In preparation for her retirement and to support future Blue Ridge Energy strategy, the cooperative has announced Jason Lingle as Director of Energy Solutions and Crystal Spencer as Director of Marketing.

Lingle will lead the workforce and services they provide in all district front offices as well as the member/customer contact center and energy solutions operations. He will also be developing and executing strategies to provide new energy products and services to electric members and propane and fuels customers of Blue Ridge Energy to meet current consumer needs as well as to prepare and respond to the energy industry market. Lingle, who holds his Master’s in Business Administration from East Carolina University and undergraduate degree from Appalachian State University, joined Blue Ridge Energy in 2007. He has worked in member service and as district manager of Watauga District office and most recently as Director of Innovative Energy Solutions where his achievements included developing the cooperative’s community solar program and overseeing efforts to bring funds to local communities for economic development and emergency response through the USDA’s Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program.

Spencer joined Blue Ridge Energy in 2018 as marketing manager with 20 years of marketing experience, including 12 years in the telecommunications cooperative space. Fast approaching changes in the energy industry require a strong marketing strategy to provide new programs and services that benefit members and customers. Spencer will lead marketing and economic development efforts for Blue Ridge Energy. She is assuming Hicks’ research role to stay attuned to member/customer satisfaction, trends and interests. She also will manage the cooperative’s efforts to support economic development within its service territory. Spencer will continue advancing Blue Ridge Energy’s marketing of new services and existing programs, such as community solar, energy management programs, electric vehicles and Propane and Fuel’s offerings. An Ashe County native, Spencer earned a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an undergraduate degree from Gardner-Webb University.

Blue Ridge Energy is a member-owned electric cooperative, serving some 76,000 members in Avery, Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Alexander, and Wilkes counties. The cooperative’s subsidiary, Blue Ridge Energy Propane and Fuels, provides residential and commercial services in the cooperative’s service area, Catawba and Burke counties as well as Grayson County, Va. and beyond. Learn more at BlueRidgeEnergy.com.

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