If you read my column last month, you remember that I encouraged you as a member to attend your district meetings. Thank you to those of you who were able to attend in person and thank you to those of you who took the time to watch the video we placed on our website and Facebook.
As part of my column, I mentioned that in order for our cooperative to be successful we need to have many people and organizations working together. A major component to our success is a reliable supply of wholesale power.
We are witnessing an energy evolution first-hand. As I drive across our service area, I see wind turbines owned by our cooperative family and other utilities. I am also hearing interest in solar panels like the ones installed in 2015 at our office. Every month I read news coming from car companies announcing plans to offer more electric vehicles and how battery technology is improving. Polaris has announced a new all electric UTV available this December that they claim will be their best model ever produced.
With all these changes, it is more important than ever to control our supply of electric power. How does your cooperative do that and how much comes from renewable resources? Your cooperative, is an owner of two other cooperatives who are responsible for generating electric power and for delivering that electric power to Central Electric. We have a seat at their board table and have a say in their operations.
Basin Electric Power Cooperative is based out of Bismarck ND. Basin Electric owns and operates multiple generating facilities, including wind, natural gas, coal, and heat recovery systems that generate electric power in multiple states. Basin also has contracts for adding 128 MW of wind and 298 MW of solar generation in the next two years. Basin Electric has the ability to choose generationresources to use based on availability and cost. They also have the option to purchase power from the wholesale market. This flexibility helps Basin Electric to be one of the lowest cost electric power producers in our Region.
Once this power is produced, it is delivered to East River Electric Cooperative based in Madison SD. East River owns and maintains the transmission lines and substations needed to deliver electric power to Central Electric. East River also receives an allocation of hydro-electric power from the Western Area Power Administration and blends this power with the power received from Basin Electric.
Green energy is certainly not new. Solar, wind and hydro power have been around for decades. However, in recent years, your cooperative family of Basin Electric and East River Electric have been able to adjust our fuel mix and utilize more renewables. In 2020 almost 44% of your electricity came from wind and hydro energy resources. It was the first time that the amount of electricity generated from renewables and hydro outpaced the amount of electricity that was generated from coal. I believe this trend will continue as your cooperative responds to what our members are asking of us.
Changing technology and renewable energy are the future but we do still depend on traditional forms of energy to keep power flowing reliably to your home. That’s why there is real value in owning your generation resources and maintaining a balanced mixture of resources. This improves reliability, resiliency and the ability to meet the demand for electricity at all times. This is also why there is value in working with Basin Electric Power Cooperative and East River Electric to help us in meeting your needs.
Until next month, be safe!