Market aids in supplying reliable, affordable electricity

Where does the electricity that serves Minnesota come from? If you’re a co-op member, it’s an ever changing and growing mix of reliable and cost-competitive energy produced by wind turbines, power plants, and hydroelectric dams across a 15-state market region.

Access to reliable and cost-competitive electricity is made possible through Great River Energy’s participation in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), a not-for-profit organization that coordinates one of the world’s largest energy and operating reserve markets.

Great River Energy sells the output from its power generation resources and aggregates energy purchases that serve member load through MISO’s markets. Ownership of a diverse mix of resources enables Great River Energy to hedge MISO energy market risks for its members. At the same time, Great River Energy can access a more diverse set of resources instead of relying solely on its own generation to serve its members.

“At times when our wind generation is abundant, it can be delivered across a large region and receive additional revenue that benefits our members,” said Greg Padden, director of resource planning and markets. “Conversely, as our members’ electricity needs fluctuate day to day, or peak during extreme weather events, we are able to purchase energy from other resources in the market to keep their homes comfortable and businesses running.”

MISO doesn’t build or own generation and transmission assets itself, but it substantially benefits the entire region through economic dispatch of generation across its entire footprint. In 2018 alone, MISO’s services provided approximately $3.5 billion in benefits, driven by enhanced reliability, more efficient use of the region’s existing transmission and generation assets, and a reduced need for new electric infrastructure.

One of Great River Energy’s core strategies is to position its portfolio of power supply resources to produce the optimum value for members in all market conditions. Between these market opportunities and generation ownership, Great River Energy’s membership can be assured it will continue to receive reliable power at a low cost.

“Our power supply goal is the same as it’s always been,” Padden said. “We seek the best possible resources that can serve our members needs for flexible and reliable energy. The market is an essential part of that.”