Extreme conditions threaten reliability

Posted: June 15, 2022 at 4:12 pm

As consumers of electricity, we expect power to be reliable and affordable. Our families, businesses and communities need the lights on at an affordable price.

The nation’s grid monitor, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NREC), recently issued a summer reliability assessment which outlines that extreme weather conditions and high seasonal demand and supply issues could threaten the reliability we critically depend on.

Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives understand these conditions did not develop overnight. For a decade, the grid has been going through transformation. It is increasingly difficult to add dispatchable, fossil-fuel generation plants, such as those powered by coal, natural gas and nuclear, while intermittent sources such as wind and solar are progressively added.

Electric cooperatives are pro-renewables and leading adopters of renewable energy technologies. However, co-ops recognize that low-carbon technologies such as batteries and nuclear power, as well as transmission infrastructure upgrades, are needed to responsibly move toward greater adoption of renewables without compromising the grid.

In the law of supply and demand, there needs to be enough supply (or in this case generation) capacity to meet demand. We must recognize that we cannot meet growing demand with a struggling or stagnate fleet. To ensure reliability, regional transmission organizations such as the Southwest Power Pool, for example, plan for more supply than demand. The map graphic illustrates estimated risk to U.S. operating reserves.

Source: NERC

The energy transition is undeniable, but electric cooperatives recognize the pace of grid transformation needs to align with existing infrastructure and evolve in a manner that does not compromise reliability and affordability for consumers. We believe a diverse energy mix that includes sufficient baseload (dispatchable) supply is essential to keep the lights on and move toward grid modernization and resiliency. As the energy transition continues, we ask you to stay in tune with your local electric cooperative.

Your cooperative will be working closely with their wholesale power supplier. If conditions are extreme, your co-op will ask consumer-members to help conserve energy during peak demand periods. We thank you in advance for any efforts you make to help conserve energy when needed. Rest assured, your co-op is working diligently on your behalf to keep the lights on.

By Chris Meyers

General Manager | Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives