Each year, I try to look ahead to the opportunities and challenges that appear to be on the horizon for Ohio’s electric cooperatives. While the topics I’ve highlighted have been important, my views on the future have been overwhelmed by events that “stole the show” in recent years. In 2020, COVID dominated our daily lives, but it was unheard of as I put together my list for that year. Last year, there were certainly signs of inflation ahead and challenges to the supply chain for certain goods, but no indication of the enormous economic impact of supply chain disruptions, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, or the staggering inflation we would endure through 2022. Yet with sound business plans and a capable workforce, electric cooperatives across Ohio still delivered safe and reliable electricity at affordable prices — even without knowing much about future headlines.
So, at the risk of being overshadowed by upcoming events, here’s a look at what we see ahead for 2023:
- Cost pressures are expected to continue this year, particularly in energy commodities like natural gas, coal, and petroleum products. Despite these cost pressures, we expect that electric cooperatives will provide high-quality service at a cost that is lower than other utilities — again — this year.
- We’re continuing our work to improve the operation and maintenance of our power plants. The availability of our plants to produce electricity during critical periods of high demand becomes more important each year as the number of baseload power plants that can be dispatched to meet electric demand continues to shrink.
- Government overreach in regulating energy industries generally, and electricity production specifically, is expected to be a headwind we will fight throughout the coming year.
- Electric cooperatives are planning to take a larger role in local community development projects as we seek to keep some of the taxes that are already being collected on electricity sales available for projects that benefit the local community where they’re collected.
- We will continue to emphasize workforce training and development for lineworkers, power plant employees, and managers to help us make sound decisions in our day-to-day work and continue to build a strong and enduring business foundation for the challenges that lie ahead — both seen and unseen.
Hope you and your family enjoy a safe and happy New Year.