As summer draws to a close, Great River Energy and its member-owner cooperatives are looking back on a season of reliable electric service despite news coverage and warnings about a shortage of electricity in the Midwest.
Even though the Midwest electric system had less surplus electricity than prior summers, the region still had nearly 8% more electric generating capability than required to meet the expected demand.
In Minnesota, the situation was even better. All major utilities in the state, including Great River Energy, maintained more electric generating capacity than required.
“As expected, the electric system performed reliably throughout the summer season, keeping members cool and comfortable even during prolonged heatwaves.”— Great River Energy President and Chief Executive Officer David Saggau
When service interruptions do occur, they are typically due to weather events resulting in physical problems with the system, and not a lack of planning for adequate supply. As the electric industry continues to transition to more renewables and the impacts of more extreme weather events continue, Great River Energy is focused on both reliability and resiliency.
In emergency situations, the region’s grid operator calls on additional power supply resources, imports energy from other regions and performs voluntary load reductions to manage the electric system. Temporary controlled manual load sheds, or periodic power outages, are only used as a last resort to keep the system in balance.
The reliability of the electric system is paramount to electric cooperatives. Great River Energy and its member-owners operate and maintain an electric system that is dependable today and carefully planned to be resilient as electricity is made and used in new ways.
Great River Energy is transitioning the way it generates electricity by reducing the use of fossil fuels and adding cost-effective renewable resources, such as wind energy.
“These resources require no fuel, which makes them environmentally responsible and economically advantageous. Because their production depends on the weather, however, we must have a dependable backup plan to reliably meet the needs of our members.”— Great River Energy President and Chief Executive Officer David Saggau
Great River Energy plans power supply resources 15 years in advance to ensure it has what it needs to serve members. Furthermore, the cooperative performs detailed maintenance every spring on its fleet of natural gas and fuel oil powered “peaking” power plants in preparation for peak days on the system. These plants can produce electricity in a matter of minutes when needed.
In addition, Great River Energy methodically designs, plans and operates a system of transmission lines that can handle high heat and elevated electricity demand. Great River Energy also works with its member-owners to reduce electricity use through voluntary load management programs that provide relief to the electric grid and ultimately save members money.