A Virginia electric cooperative has received high honors for its foresightedness, ranking No. 7 on a survey of cutting-edge companies in North America. BARC Electric Cooperative, based in Millboro, has been named to Fast Company’s prestigious annual list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2021.

The list honors businesses that have found a way to be resilient in the past year, and also turned those challenges into impact-making processes. These companies did more than survive, they thrived — making an impact on their industries and culture as a whole. This year’s MIC list features 463 businesses from 29 countries.

“To even be recognized on the national stage, let alone rank seventh, is an extraordinary honor for our cooperative,” said BARC CEO Mike Keyser. “Innovation is truly in our DNA at BARC. For Fast Company to see that and consider us worthy of this distinguished list validates the determination of all our staff who are constantly striving to improve the quality of life in our community.”

BARC’s naming to Fast Company’s annual list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies was based on its accomplishments from the past 18 months. In 2020, BARC launched SolarizeBARC, a comprehensive set of affordable solar energy solutions for its customers, including rooftop solar, community solar, and utility-scale solar, as well as EV charging and battery storage solutions.

Through this program, BARC’s electric consumers have the flexibility to have all or a part of their energy mix come from renewable sources, with onsite solutions, subscription to a central solar garden maintained by the cooperative, or in the form of renewable energy credits. SolarizeBARC is the cornerstone of BARC’s Sustainability Plan, also adopted in 2020, which is the first and only voluntary carbon-neutral public commitment of any utility in Virginia. By 2035, BARC has committed to 100% carbon-neutral energy sales.

In 2020, BARC continued its commitment to provide world-class broadband service through the expansion of its award-winning fiber-to-the-home project, bringing high-speed Internet, telephone and TV services to the Shenandoah Valley and Appalachia region of Virginia. To date, BARC has brought broadband over its all-fiber network to more than 2,500 previously unserved homes and businesses in the region, including all 13 public schools in Rockbridge County and the cities of Lexington and Buena Vista. BARC is building 500 miles of fiber in 2021 and bridging the digital divide by connecting thousands of consumers per year as its network expands.

Fast Company’s editors and writers sought out the most groundbreaking businesses across the globe and industries, and considered the impact of each company on both industry and the larger culture.

The World’s Most Innovative Companies is Fast Company’s signature franchise and one of its most highly anticipated editorial efforts of the year. It provides both a snapshot and a road map for the future of innovation across the most dynamic sectors of the economy.

“In a year of unprecedented challenges, the companies on this list exhibit fearlessness, ingenuity, and creativity in the face of crisis,” said Fast Company Deputy Editor David Lidsky, who oversaw the issue with Senior Editor Amy Farley. Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies issue (March/April 2021) is available online, as well as in app form via iTunes and on newsstands beginning March 16. The hashtag is #FCMostInnovative.