To Keep Your Balance, You Must Keep Moving
As I’ve noted in my past columns and you’ve likely seen in the news, the energy industry is undergoing a dramatic transformation as consumer demand for more renewable energy sources grows, and innovation and technology continue to advance exponentially. I for one am a fan of change, innovation, and new technology. However, I am also cautious to ensure these changes are affordable and can be reliably managed.
In driving across the region, you may have noticed a few fields with solar panels owned by various utilities, or a small solar array installed on someone’s roof. Consumer interest in renewable energy is strong and growing. In addition, national studies indicate that consumers have an expectation that companies operate in an ethical and responsible manner - including when it comes to the environment.
Maybe you have heard about the impending changes in the transportation sector with most major vehicle companies announcing plans to offer more electric vehicles at more affordable prices. Of course, we have all heard about Tesla and their electric vehicles. But General Motors, VW, Ford and most other major car manufacturers have plans to electrify all or a portion of their vehicles in the next few years. GM rolled out the all-electric Hummer a few months ago and Ford just debuted their electric F-150 truck that will be available in 2022. This past week I just saw my first all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E, which was released earlier this year.
Union County Electric Cooperative has always put the good of our community first. While our primary function is to provide reliable and affordable energy to our members, we are more than an electricity provider. Because we are a cooperative, our goal is to enrich the lives of our members and to serve the long-term interests of our community. We feel we’re doing both by investing in renewable energy sources through our primary power suppliers and looking to the future to both generation supply and more efficient use of resources.
Green energy is certainly not new. Solar, wind, and hydro power have been around for decades. However, the recent innovations and advances in renewable technology have led to sharp decreases in cost, making it more feasible and accessible. In recent years, Union County Electric Cooperative has been able to adjust our fuel mix by utilizing more renewables while depending less on sources that emit various potentially harmful substances into the air.
However, to borrow a nautical analogy, it takes a long time to turn the direction of a large ship - and changing the energy mix we use to power homes and businesses doesn’t happen overnight. While renewable energy use is increasing, we will still depend on traditional forms of energy to keep power flowing reliably to your home. After all, solar and wind energy are referred to as “intermittent” power since the sun does not always shine and the wind does not always blow. This basic fact, coupled with the growing demand for renewables, creates its own challenges. That’s why there is real value in maintaining a balanced mixture of fuel types to ensure reliability, resiliency and meet the growing demand for electricity from things like air conditioners, water heaters and electric vehicles.
As the energy industry continues to evolve, we are striving to take advantage of technology advances and market opportunities as they become available. This means we can leverage the flexibility of the grid to offer a wider range of renewable power selections as we continue to bring safe, reliable, and affordable power to our community.
Albert Einstein once observed that, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” In order for us to meet the growing demand for renewable energy and ensure the reliability of our power supply, we must constantly make operational adjustments as we strive for balance and a brighter future for our members.
Quote of the Month:
"Nothing is impossible. The word itself says "I'm possible!" - Audrey Hepburn, Actress