To meet the needs of our local members now and into the future, CHEC and electric cooperatives statewide are adapting our energy sources and services. As the price of solar and other renewable resources is coming down, integrating more renewables is part of that transition. But outside of cost, renewables still present some challenges – for example, that solar does not generate consistent power overnight, under clouds, or in the early or late parts of the day. So how can CHEC enhance reliability with new energy technologies, while also keeping electricity affordable and sustainable? It takes a diverse energy portfolio that combines powerhouse “always on” generation sources – like nuclear and natural gas – with the technologies and sustainable resources of the future.
Matching supply and demand
To keep the grid reliable, co-ops must deliver exactly the right amount of power needed by members at every moment of the day. The supply of electricity on the grid must match demand at all times. If that balance isn’t met, members could lose power and the system could be damaged.
Abundant, low-cost, consistent power
To ensure the needed amount of power is always available, CHEC through its power supplier has invested in a diverse energy portfolio that incorporates power from a variety of sources. Emissions-free nuclear provides more than half of the power we deliver, and is a steady, low-cost source that can run almost constantly.
Natural gas is another important piece of the energy-mix puzzle. It provides abundant power at a low cost, and with lower emissions than other fossil fuels. It also has the flexibility to be dispatched quickly at any time, day or night.
This makes it an important pair for renewables that may generate power intermittently. As more renewables are added to the grid, cooperatives can quickly ramp up natural gas generation and support those resources to keep the grid stable. It is a critical source of flexible, low-cost generation as renewables grow.
The flexibility of natural gas is also critical for meeting the power needs at times when members are using the most power, called peak demand, and to respond immediately if capacity dips.
Innovation for the future
Across the grid, electric cooperatives are working together to add smart new resources, including batteries for energy storage, microgrids, and controlling technologies that enable all of these resources to work together to provide the most value.
By coordinating new energy resources as they are added to the grid, electric cooperatives can further increase reliability and save costs, especially at “peak” times when electricity use is highest and wholesale power is most expensive. Because CHEC is a not-for-profit, community-owned organization that provide power to members at cost, savings directly benefit you, our co-op members.
Looking ahead, we will continue to work to exceed your expectations by pursuing our vision to build a brighter local future with reliable, affordable and sustainable power, and by coupling a diverse energy portfolio with smart energy innovations.