Your cooperative purchases 100 percent of its wholesale power from Minnkota Power Cooperative, our generation and transmission cooperative. As you are probably aware, the power we purchase from Minnkota comes from several different resources. The lion’s share – about 60 percent – comes from coal and the other roughly 40 percent comes from renewable sources such as wind. Over the years, we’ve advocated an “all-of-the-above approach” when it comes to energy production and use, meaning that we believe we should use all of North Dakota’s bountiful resources to serve the energy needs of our membership. In part, that’s why today we have a generation mix that includes coal, wind, hydro and other small generation sources.
So, you could say that because of the generation mix we purchase, through the normal course of doing business with Nodak, you already receive roughly 40 percent of your power from renewable sources; however, that is a bit of an oversimplification. Actually, all of the energy produced by Minnkota is placed on the high-voltage transmission system and is essentially mixed together and sold to Minnkota’s 11 member cooperatives, with the balance being sold into the wholesale markets. Once the energy is placed on the grid and all blended together, you can’t really be sure where the renewable energy is delivered, or where the fossil fuel-based energy is delivered.
To address this issue, the Midwest Renewable Energy Tracking System (M-RETs) was created and each kilowatt-hour of energy produced from a renewable source in the region is given a Renewable Energy Credit, or REC. An REC is a verification that electricity was generated from an eligible renewable resource before it was introduced into the electric grid. These RECs are then bought and sold or traded among those who want to be considered the end user of that renewable energy, and the REC is then retired when the energy is used. M-RETs tracks each of these RECs to ensure they are only used once.
Someone’s desire to have RECs retired on their behalf can come from a wide variety of interests. Some power companies have a mandate to sell a certain portion of their electricity from renewable sources, yet may not have enough of their own renewable generation to comply. Some companies are making products that they have a desire to market in a manner indicating they were produced with less environmental impacts. Federal government buildings are under a presidential direction to seek more renewable energy. And finally, some homeowners have a desire to utilize more renewable products due to their position on environmental impacts. Whatever the reason may be, through the purchase and retirement of RECs renewable energy goals can be attained.
To that end, we are introducing the Infinity Renewable Energy program. Nodak members who wish to purchase renewable energy for their home or business now have the option to do so by participating in our Infinity Renewable Energy program. Options to purchase 100 kilowatt-hour blocks of renewable energy, or 100 percent of your monthly energy needs, are available to those who wish to have RECs retired on their behalf. Participation in the program only takes a phone call and has no long-term commitments. On page 5, you’ll find a complete description of the program features and cost. If this is something you’re interested in, please call us and we will help ensure that the energy you use is recognized as coming from a renewable source.
In closing, I want to recognize that this publication will reach you during the holiday season, and I want to express our heartfelt thank you for your patronage and support this past year. We also want to remind all of you to think safety with your holiday lighting and decorating so we may all have a “merry and bright” holiday season. Happy holidays.