The power supply transition Great River Energy is currently undergoing has garnered support not only from its member-owner cooperatives but the member-consumers those co-ops serve as well, according to results of a recent survey.
More than half (54%) of the 800 member-consumer respondents in the cooperative’s first survey since announcing its intention to sell or shut down its largest coal-fired power plant chose “increasing renewables” as what they view should be one of Great River Energy’s top two priorities.
The cooperative is working to sell Coal Creek Station and the accompanying high-voltage, direct-current system while continuing to incorporate hundreds of megawatts of renewable energy to its portfolio. Great River Energy most recently reached an agreement with Apex Clean Energy to receive renewable energy from a 400-megawatt wind project in McLean County, North Dakota.
“The insights we receive from this survey help to reinforce that we are making decisions in the best interest of our membership,” said Therese LaCanne, manager of communications and marketing at Great River Energy. “The research also serves to guide us as we craft new strategies to better serve them into the future.”
Increasing renewables was nearly tied with keeping rates affordable (53%), which the cooperative is also keeping top of mind as the power supply transition progresses. Great River Energy’s wholesale electric rates will remain stable in 2022, and credits this — in part — to its ability to take advantage of low-cost wind energy contracts.
Respondents’ ratings on whether the electricity they receive from their cooperative is an excellent value increased 6.4% between 2019 and 2021, demonstrating a growing recognition of the product’s value in members’ daily lives for the price.
As the sources generating energy become cleaner, 58% of respondents agree that electrification — a strategy that promotes using electric technologies to replace fossil fuels — should be a focus, mostly because of its environmental benefits. For years, Great River Energy has viewed electrifying certain parts of the economy, especially the transportation sector, as an integral component to reducing carbon dioxide emissions and has created several member programs to this end.
As members continue searching for the most up-to-date, reliable information related to the continuously changing energy industry, their electric cooperative remains their most trusted source.
“Great River Energy and our member cooperatives exist to serve the membership, and we take pride in our open doors of communication with them,” LaCanne said.