Balancing The Energy Transition

Mylo Einarson
President & CEO

As I’ve noted before in past columns, the energy industry is undergoing a dramatic transformation as consumer demand for more renewable energy sources grows, and innovation and technology continue to advance. You’re likely witnessing this energy evolution firsthand. 

In driving across the region, you may have noticed a significant increase in the number of wind turbines dotting the landscape. Maybe you’ve 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. 

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.

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 are still depending 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 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 and resiliency and meet the growing demand for electricity. 

Our wholesale power currently comes from a diverse mix of coal, wind, and hydro sources. From a capacity perspective, that generation portfolio is comprised of 42% renewable sources. Transitioning to even more sustainable sources may be achievable and for some, even desirable, but it would not be done without decades of planning and a significant capital investment. 

In this issue of the Nodak Neighbor, as well as on our website, you will find an article describing the instability of the region’s electric grid. This instability has come about largely due to the replacement of coal, nuclear and natural gas baseload, and dispatchable power plants with intermittent sources. The regional transmission operator has even predicted capacity shortfalls in the region this summer. This article highlights the reality of what we’ve been saying for a long time. If our nation transitions away from baseload thermal sources like coal and natural gas too quickly, reliability will suffer dramatically. At the end of the day, our mission will be to continue to do what we can to provide our member-owners with safe, affordable, reliable electricity.

At Nodak Electric, we have always put the good of our community and our members 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 co-op, our mission is to enrich the lives of our members and to serve the long-term interests of our community. We feel we’re doing both.

Crew Foreman Ben Haarstad and Apprentice Lineworker Kaden Jaeger

“Concern for Community” is one of the cooperative principles that Nodak Electric is committed to. Our team demonstrated that commitment by helping out the Sertoma Club of Greater Grand Forks. They installed poles for a new archway in Sertoma Park.