January is always a good time to take stock of things — to prepare for what’s ahead in the coming year — and often, your electric cooperative finds a long list of upcoming events and things to consider as we try to make sure we’re ready for whatever comes our way. Our list seems to be a little shorter this year, but that doesn’t mean we have less to do or less to worry about. We have some important long-term goals that we need to make progress on to ensure that we can continue to provide the reliable and affordable electric service that you’ve come to expect.
One of our most pressing concerns is the growing recognition throughout the electric utility industry, especially among those whose job it is to ensure the reliability of the regional and national electric system, that we have entered a new era — a period of increasing risk that our electric system may not be able to provide all the power needed to keep everyone’s lights on during periods of extreme weather.
The nation’s growing demand for electricity is on a collision course with the shrinking supply of the traditional fossil-fuel-fired generation that has always been the foundation for the system’s reliability. Recent reports, prepared separately and independently by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation and our regional grid operator, PJM Interconnection, point to government policy as the greatest threat to the future reliability of our electric power system. So that’s where we start our “to do” list for the coming year:
- Emphasize to our elected officials and other policymakers the need to protect the interests of the people and businesses we serve, who depend on an uninterrupted supply of electricity for their safety, security, and economic well-being, regardless of the weather.
- Adequately plan, invest, and maintain our electric generation facilities to maximize their availability during extreme weather events — when they’re needed most.
- Plan for future investments in proven technologies that can keep up with the growing demand for continuous electric service, recognizing that all forms of electric supply have inherent strengths, weaknesses, and risks and that a diverse portfolio of resources provides more stability, in both price and availability, for everyone.
- Provide training and workforce development opportunities to ensure that our employees are prepared to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.
We know there are challenges ahead, but one thing has remained constant over the years: We are always more successful when we work together toward our common goals, even when the path ahead is sometimes unclear.
Thank you for your patronage and support of your electric cooperative again this past year. I hope that you and your family enjoyed a joyous holiday season, and I wish you a safe and happy 2024!