Great River Energy does this with its members every day, as the cooperative creates and transfers electricity across a complex grid. One of the ways Great River Energy stays current with industry practices is by participating in the Google of electricity research: the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).
“EPRI was started in the 1970s as a way for utilities to come together to research different industry trends and best practices,” said Greg Archer, Great River Energy environmental services leader and manager of EPRI’s technology transfer at Great River Energy. “As an EPRI member, we have this wealth of information at our fingertips, where literally anyone from a financial analyst to a generation plant operator can take advantage of EPRI’s work and apply it to their discipline through accessing EPRI’s online library materials.”
EPRI is made up of some of the leading thinkers representing electric utilities of all types: investor owned, cooperatives and municipals. Together, they decide where EPRI’s research and development dollars should go.
“Great River Energy also has the opportunity to designate dollars to a project that might be unique to us or our members,” Archer said. “We have the opportunity to direct these supplemental funds to directly benefit our business and our members.”
Need a definition for electro-magnetic forces and how they interact with common household appliances? EPRI has papers on that. Looking for ways to minimize the environmental impacts of coal-based generation? EPRI has done the research. Wondering how adding more electric vehicles or electric water heaters might impact the grid? EPRI has it covered.
Great River Energy employees from across the company participate in EPRI by attending biannual EPRI sector meetings and participating in working groups. These employees guide EPRI’s research priorities and help shape and prepare for the electric grid of the future. EPRI offers expertise in a variety of areas, including environmental, generation and power delivery utilization that align well with Great River Energy’s company structure.
“EPRI provides us with a Wikipedia of electric technology information,” said Jeff Haase, Great River Energy strategic energy and efficiency program representative. “For example, we can take our energy efficiency goals and see what others in the industry have done and how that might play out in Minnesota. EPRI is a great resource for us, as well. They provide human capital and provide us with information that can be easily shared with our members.”