We’ve all heard the phrase, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” This popular adage is often used in conversation or a story when someone is about to do something foolish or risky. If they heed this advice, it means they did not commit to “one basket,” but instead hedged their bets with multiple options.
This strategy is how I describe Nodak Electric’s commonsense approach to the current energy transition. We know that, while not yet with the majority of our members, consumer interest in renewable energy continues to grow. We’ve seen this trend in the region and across the nation.
Recent innovations and advances in renewable energy technologies have led to sharp decreases in costs, making renewables more feasible, accessible and scalable. Our wholesale power provider, Minnkota Power Cooperative, was an early adopter of renewable energy. Over the last two decades or so, the amount of renewable capacity on our system has grown to 42% of our power supply mix.
Nationally, there is increasing reliance on renewable energy sources at the same time that we’re seeing fossil fuel plants taken offline, often ahead of schedule. Additionally, we’re seeing more pressure on the electric grid due to the frequency and intensity of severe weather events and rising electricity demand.
So how do we reconcile these challenges of grid pressure and a changing fuel mix? Solar and wind energy are certainly beneficial for the environment, but they are limited resources because the sun does not always shine, and the wind does not always blow. Our primary responsibility is to provide electricity 24/7 to you, our members/owners. To do this, we need reliable sources of power that will meet all the peaks and valleys of on-demand energy in our connected world.
So where are we netting out? That’s where our familiar adage comes into play. While utilization of renewables is increasing, we still need to incorporate other forms of energy in the mix to ensure reliable service. Remember, solar and wind are intermittent power sources. This fact coupled with the growing demand for renewables creates its own challenges.
That’s why we spread our eggs into multiple baskets. There is great value in maintaining a diverse mix of fuel sources – fossil fuels and renewables – to ensure reliability and resiliency and meet the growing demand for electricity.
Reliability also means repairing and replacing our distribution system to prevent wear-and-tear, ensuring our equipment can withstand severe weather. We are laser-focused on providing our Nodak Electric Cooperative members with reliable, affordable energy. That’s why fuel diversity – or placing our eggs in multiple baskets – is essential to reliability.
The bottom line
Lowering the overall carbon footprint in this country means we’re going to electrify more and more of our economy. For example, an electric pickup can use more electricity than most single-family homes. As the carbon footprint goes down, electric usage will go up. Renewable power is an important part of a broader energy portfolio, but it is not available 24/7. In today’s ever-connected world, people need power around the clock.
As our nation increasingly depends on electricity to power the economy, Nodak Electric Cooperative is working to anticipate, plan, and respond to market trends and policy shifts. That’s how we can power your home and our economy, while continuing to serve as your local energy provider.