Throughout the month of January, your cooperative hosted seven of our eight District Meetings. The polar vortex that hit our area the last few days in January caused us to reschedule our Buffalo County District Meeting for February 19th. That same polar vortex also had two unique impacts on our electricity demand and generation resources.
New All-Time Peak
On Tuesday, January 29 around 10:30 PM, East River Electric (our wholesale power supplier) reach an all-time peak of 727 MW in demand. (Demand equals the rate at which energy is used, much like miles per hour on your car). This new peak of 727 MW was the equivalent of 727 million watts being used or “demanded” over a 15-minute time frame, or approximately 727,000 hair dryers (1 hair dryer = 1,000 watts). The previous all-time peak was set in January 2018 at 696.3 MW.
Why is demand significant? Approximately 50% of the cost of wholesale electric energy purchased by Central Electric is due to electrical demand. Demand costs are related to the amount and size of generators and power lines that are built and maintained to provide enough electricity now and in the future.
Members can manage their demand costs by managing how much electrical equipment is operating during a 15-minute time period. Members can also help manage the overall demand costs incurred by the cooperative by voluntary participation in the cooperative’s load management programs. Members who allow the cooperative to remotely turn off water heaters, air conditioners, irrigation systems, and industrial loads have allowed the cooperative to avoid over $1 million in additional monthly demand costs in 2018 and helped keep electric rates lower.
Shift in Generation Resources
Basin Electric Power Cooperative also experienced a unique phenomenon during the extreme cold temperatures. As the temperatures dropped, it became too cold to operate Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s wind resources, and the wind turbines were shut down. Once this happened, natural gas generation increased and additional generation needed to be purchased off the grid in order to meet the members’ load needs. As you can also see from the graph, our coal generation resources played an important role in keeping the lights on.
Thanks to years of planning, foresight, and capital investment, your cooperative, East River Electric, and Basin Electric were able to keep the power on during the extreme conditions. This is expected and required of electric companies, and service to our members is what we hang our hat on.
To learn more about your electric power generation, I encourage you to sign up for this year’s Basin Electric Bus Tour held July 17-19, 2019 (see page 14). Contact our office or visit www.centralec.coop for more information.
Until Next Month – Be Safe
BY: KEN SCHLIMGEN, GENERAL MANAGER
PUBLISHED IN MARCH 2019 COOPERATIVE CONNECTIONS NEWSLETTER