Connected to Weather the Weather and More

We partner with our member co-ops to handle weather challenges – and have done so for years

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Column by Jeff Conrad
President and CEO of Wabash Valley Power

The scorching summer sun sending thermometer mercury skyward also spurs people indoors – and electricity demand soaring.

People usually only think about their power provider when paying their bill or when there is a power outage. But with rising temps and tightening grid conditions, many have begun to pay close attention to concerns over energy costs and reliability. The North American Electric Reliability Corp. and the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, which coordinates electricity generation and transmission in parts of the central U.S. and Canada, have warned that there is an elevated risk of extreme weather causing capacity challenges and point to a nationwide transition away from fossil fuel resources as a significant factor contributing to the reliability challenge facing the grid.

Fortunately, we at Wabash Valley Power Alliance maintain our focus and commitment to affordable and reliable energy 24/7. In fact, our member co-ops are the very foundation of our existence – and we maintain an unwavering commitment to provide safe and reliable power to the families, farms, schools and businesses that we collectively serve each and every day.

We at Wabash Valley Power Alliance are a not-for-profit generation and transmission cooperative that supplies electricity to 23 electric distribution cooperatives in Indiana, Illinois and Missouri. This alliance of cooperatives plans for the reliable delivery of affordable electricity in multiple ways.

Diverse Power Supply: Our power supply includes electricity generated by a variety of resources; including wind, the sun (which generates more during the longer summer sunlight hours), nuclear power, natural gas and coal; to minimize the impact of resource price volatility. We also have long-term contracts with rates locked in years ago that have been particularly beneficial given the price spikes across the economy over the last year.

Energy Efficiency Programs: We collaborate with our member co-ops to offer Power Moves®, a program that features rebates for energy efficiency upgrades for homes and businesses to lower their long-term energy use. Since its 2010 inception, the program has awarded more than $32 million for projects that have saved more than 298 million kilowatt-hours – enough electricity to power nearly 25,000 homes for a year.

Demand-Response Programs: We also have developed the PowerShift® programs that offer incentives for participants to shift their energy use when grid conditions are tight. This helps lower the peak demand, which can offset the need to construct more power plants or purchase high-priced electricity from the energy markets.

Connected with Each Other – Literally: We, along with our member electric co-ops, are part of the Eastern Interconnection, which is the energy grid that connects transmission facilities across most of the eastern half of the United States and Canada from the base of the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean enabling electricity to move along transmission lines throughout the region. It does not include Texas in the U.S. or Quebec in Canada.

Regulatory Oversight: Utilities that own generation and transmission infrastructure – including WVPA – also plan with governing agencies, including state, national and international authorities such as NERC and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, to properly maintain and upgrade the nation’s infrastructure. In short, we are all connected – physically, in planning and regulatory oversight – to ensure that we are prepared when issues arise.

Weather related challenges from sweltering summers and frigid winters are commonplace in the Midwest, and we routinely plan for them. We collaborate with our cooperative alliance along with other utilities and multiple regulatory agencies to ensure that we and all utilities are best prepared to weather the weather – along with changing technology, economic turbulence or any other challenge that may arise. We work tirelessly to ensure that electricity is the last thing on your mind when you flip the switch.