Power Lines

Voices for Cooperative Power

Electric cooperative communities are some of the best places in America to call home. We have majestic landscapes, deep-seated values, and a sense of connectedness like no other.

Some people may be wary of giving their name and information to yet another list. The last thing anyone needs is more junk email clogging their inboxes or more spam phone calls. But Voices for Cooperative Power is not junk mail. And members’ information will never be sold or given to anyone outside of the electric cooperative network.

Judy and Larry Mercer with granddaughter, Lily.

Key to reliability

Judy Mercer was just sitting down with her family — all 16 of them — for Thanksgiving dinner in 2014 when the lights in their house near Wingett Run suddenly went dark.

“I’ve lived in the country my whole life, so honestly, I’m used to it,” Judy says. “We were actually thankful because we knew that there were linemen already out working on the problem even by the time we called it in, but that was when we got our generator.”

Youth Tour chaperone with group of students

Watchful eyes

When Ohio’s electric cooperatives send about 40 high school students on a weeklong Youth Tour trip to Washington, D.C., each year, it’s often a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the students to not only tour the nation’s capital from a perspective that not all visitors are

Missy Kidwell, senior service specialist at Consolidated Cooperative in Mount Gilead, is assistant director of Ohio’s Youth Tour program. She had been involved in the process of selecting students to attend the trip for several years before she decided to attend as a chaperone. “Being able to see these students start out as strangers but then cultivate a lifelong friendship by the end of the week was pretty amazing,” she says. “I always knew it was an important experience, but didn’t realize exactly how special it was until I saw it in person.”

Carbon-free by 2035?

Over the last few months, Ohio Cooperative Living has taken a look at why we still need coal — an analysis of cost and reliability factors of different generation resources; a review of the sources of electricity used to power Ohio’s co-op member homes and businesses; an ex

ADDING TRANSMISSION

Hundreds of billions of dollars will be needed to build and upgrade the transmission system to carry more electricity from wind and solar. An MIT study found transmission capacity will need to be doubled, and recent transmission projects have taken as long as 17 to 20 years to complete. 

Harnessing the sun

Buckeye Power, the generation and transmission cooperative that provides electricity to Ohio’s 24 electric cooperatives, produces safe, affordable, and reliable power using an all-of-the-above generation strategy. 

Each potential generating resource — coal plants, solar panels, hydropower facilities, etc. — produces power at a different level of reliability, environmental impact, and cost, so the trick is to balance each factor in the generation mix to produce electricity in the safest, cleanest, most economical, and most reliable way possible. 

That’s already a complicated task, because some of those factors tend to be at odds with one another. In recent times, another factor has added another twist to those generation decisions: consumer attitudes. 

Cleaner coal

Cleaner coal

Years ago, if you drove past Cardinal Power Plant, you likely saw a gray cloud emerging from the towers — that color was caused by fly ash and a few other various byproducts of burning coal. 

Located along the Ohio River in Brilliant, Ohio, Cardinal is Buckeye Power’s baseload source for power generation, meaning it supplies Ohio’s 25 electric cooperatives with electricity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s also a main economic driver in the region, providing more than 300 jobs. The coal-fired plant consists of three units: one owned by AEP and two owned by Buckeye Power. All are managed by Buckeye Power. 

Pair of kings

Stacking the deck

In a game of cards, assembling the strongest hand means having the right card to play at the right time. Depending on the situation, the value of each card changes. It might be best to play a jack, to hold a queen for later, or to pull out that ace in the hole.

Buckeye Power pursues an all-of-the-above generation strategy, taking into consideration cost, reliability, environmental impact, and more when deciding which cards to pick up and which ones to discard. From coal to natural gas to renewable sources, each one is an important part of keeping power flowing to our members. This month, we take a look at the cards in Buckeye Power’s hand. 

Why do we STILL need coal?

Why do we STILL need coal?

Consumer-members of Ohio electric cooperatives understand the benefits of renewable energy sources like wind and solar — endless supplies that can’t be used up, with little to no carbon footprint.

Why can't we switch to all renewables? 

In a word, reliability. Ryan Strom, manager of power delivery engineering services for Buckeye Power, says, “A lot of people don’t realize when they’re using electricity at home, there is a power plant actively running to support that.” Electricity is produced as you’re using it, not stored for when you need it.

Jeff McCallister and an electric vehicle

EV road trip

In 2010, the first year that plug-in electric vehicles were commercially available, 300 were sold. The following year, that number climbed to almost 18,000, and by 2019, plug-in EV sales totaled 327,000 — about 2% of light-duty automobile sales that year.

Electric cooperatives across the nation are preparing for the increased EV market share — especially as automakers begin rolling out electric pickup trucks and medium SUV models that are more popular with rural drivers.

Several Ohio co-ops have installed chargers at their offices, some offer rebates on home charging equipment, and all include calculators on their websites that help their members determine the potential savings if they switch to EVs from their current combustion model. 

Government relations

80 years serving our members

Shortly after the first electric cooperatives formed in the 1930s, their leadership began to see some of the same challenges that small businesses everywhere face — chief among them being a lack of the buying power that larger companies enjoy.

The leaders of the co-ops started talking among themselves to find ways to negotiate better contracts to buy electricity, and they saw immediate benefits. It didn’t take long before they began to see real value in working together in other aspects of their business, as well. So, in 1941 — a little more than five years after Piqua-based Pioneer Electric Cooperative set the first co-op pole in the nation, and 80 years ago this summer — co-ops officially formed a statewide trade association: Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives.