Author: Wade Harris

NERC: weather, demand and supply delays could threaten reliability this summer

Extreme weather conditions, high seasonal demand and supply and shipping delays could pose reliability challenges for the nation’s electric utilities this summer, the North American Electric Reliability Corp. said in a new report.

“The utility industry prepares its equipment and operators for challenging summer conditions, but persistent, extreme drought and its accompanying weather patterns create extra stresses on electricity supply and demand,” said Mark Olson, NERC’s manager of reliability assessments, in a May 18 briefing on NERC’s Summer Reliability Assessment.

“Grid operators in affected areas will need all available tools to keep the system in balance this summer,” he said. 

Olson outlined industry concerns, which include ongoing inventory disruptions that are delaying generation and transmission construction and upgrades, cybersecurity threats, supply challenges for coal-based generation, and an anticipated active late-summer wildfire season in the western United States and Canada.

The report notes that reliability challenges are being compounded by evolving demands on the power grid, which has grown increasingly complex as renewable energy assets are added and consumers assert more control over their electricity use. 

“There’s clear, objective, inclusive data indicating that the pace of our grid transformation is a bit out of sync with the underlying realities and the physics of the system,” said John Moura, NERC’s director of reliability assessment. 

“We look at that long-term, and we see the transformation that’s happened over the last 10 years with our traditional baseload generation resources like coal and nuclear retiring, and lots of new natural gas and variable generation, mostly solar and wind,” said Moura.

NERC officials discussed the potential impact of summer weather and associated demand on regional transmission operators who manage large portions of the nation’s power grid. 

Seven areas face risks of energy shortfalls this summer, said Olson. “Their anticipated generation resources may not be sufficient to meet the operating reserves of a peak summer day in an average year.”

But 2022 is not shaping up to be average. Drought conditions and the early beginning of wildfire season in the West and Southwest coupled with low winter snowfalls could pose problems for the Midcontinent Independent System Operator. That prompted a “high risk” designation for MISO, which serves 15 states and Canada’s Manitoba province. 

“Drought can lead to reduced output from several types of generation, and it can also set weather conditions for higher temperatures,” said Moura.

Areas facing elevated risks include:

• The Southwest Power Pool: Drought conditions could contribute to low output from thermal and hydro generation needed to balance wind output.

• Texas: Increased wind and solar have eased capacity concerns, but drought conditions and summer heat may challenge the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and prompt manual load shed events during periods of low wind and high power plant outages.

• While the Pacific Northwest and California should have sufficient reserves under normal conditions, regional heat events could cause transmission congestion and energy emergencies. Wildfires, drought and supply chain issues could pose localized risks. 

“The risk of energy shortfall in these areas is elevated because more extreme conditions that drive above-normal demand or low resource output could deplete the reserves and lead to an energy emergency,” Moura said. He added that hydroelectric output could be curbed by drought conditions, particularly in California. 

NERC officials also warned that as older generation is retired, smaller baseload and peaking plants are being driven harder, increasing the risks of mechanical failures and forced outages. Officials also warned that some utilities are facing slowdowns in coal delivery, creating additional concern about falling reserve margins.

NRECA reacted to the report with a statement to reporters that noted “the ongoing energy transition must recognize the need for time, technology development and be inclusive of all energy sources to maintain reliability and affordability. A resilient and reliable electric grid that affordably keeps the lights on is the cornerstone of the American economy. American families and businesses rightfully expect the lights to stay on at a price they can afford. And a diverse energy mix that includes adequate baseload supply is essential to meeting those expectations day in and day out.”

Derrill Holly is a staff writer for NRECA.

Co-op profile: Logan Reeves | Kenergy

In the latest co-op profile video by your statewide association, we are pleased to feature Logan Reeves. 

In his 2 1/2 years as a system controller for Kenergy, he has demonstrated the power of positivity and is an inspiration to all of his fellow colleagues after overcoming a huge obstacle in his life.

Does your co-op have an interesting story to tell or other developments to share? If you have an idea for a video produced by the statewide co-op association, please email or

Biden’s 2023 Budget Proposal: What Co-ops Should Know

The Biden administration’s proposed 2023 budget would increase funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect broadband program by 33%—from $450 million in fiscal year 2022 to $600 million.

The ReConnect program provides loans and grants to electric cooperatives to help pay for the construction, improvement or acquisition of facilities and equipment to bring high-speed internet to rural communities that have little or no service.

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of broadband as people have relied on it to work from home, attend virtual classes and access telemedicine appointments.

President Joe Biden’s budget proposal is, like that of all presidents, a request to Congress. Legislators have the power of the purse and ultimately will decide spending priorities and levels for federal agencies and programs.

“While we recognize that the final decision lies with Congress, we welcome the administration’s support for increasing broadband funding to help close the digital divide that is keeping rural America from reaching its full economic potential,” said Hill Thomas, NRECA’s vice president of legislative affairs.

Turning to another USDA program vital to co-ops, the administration’s proposed budget calls for continuing to fund the Rural Utilities Service Electric Loan Program at $6.5 billion. Congress increased funding for the program by $1 billion in fiscal year 2022 from $5.5 billion in 2021.

Co-ops use RUS loans to help build and improve infrastructure that provides reliable, affordable electric service to their consumer-members. Repayment of those loans with interest to the U.S. Treasury helps reduce the federal deficit. 

“We are glad to see that the administration’s budget supports the increase that Congress provided to the RUS loan program that is so crucial to electric co-ops and the communities they serve,” Thomas said.

In a departure from the Trump administration’s budget proposals, the Biden administration is not seeking to sell off transmission assets that provide affordable hydropower from federal dams to hundreds of co-ops.

The Trump administration—in an effort that drew bipartisan opposition in Congress—had proposed to privatize assets held by the Tennessee Valley Authority, Bonneville Power Administration, Southwestern Power Administration and Western Area Power Administration.

The Trump administration had also sought to increase rates for federal Power Marketing Administrations by changing the cost-based rate structure to make it comparable to rates charged by investor-owned utilities.

In its budget plan for 2023, the Biden administration proposes increased funding for climate-related activities at nearly every federal agency. That includes a boost of almost $17 billion, for a total of $45 billion, to the five agencies with the most climate-related programs. The budget requests a record $11.9 billion—a nearly 29% increase—for the Environmental Protection Agency alone.

Erin Kelly is a staff writer for NRECA.

NRECA Asks Postal Service to Drop Rate Hikes in Light of Reform Act Relief

NRECA and other nonprofits are asking the U.S. Postal Service to abandon an unprecedented postage rate hike now that Congress has passed legislation to bolster the agency’s operations and provide financial relief.

The Postal Reform Act of 2022, which the Senate approved last week and President Joe Biden is expected to sign into law soon, was drafted to strengthen how the beleaguered service does business and ultimately save it money.

But the measure will not ease the record-high rates authorized last year or deter additional biannual postage increases.

“While this legislation will help shore up some of the Postal Service’s financial challenges, it does not provide immediate relief for electric co-ops and other postal users that face record rate increases in the coming years,” said Bobby Hamill, NRECA’s government relations director on this issue.

“NRECA continues to work with our Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers coalition in urging the Postal Service and the Postal Regulatory Commission to moderate the planned rate increases, particularly in light of the recent financial support provided by Congress.”

The Postal Regulatory Commission last August authorized nonprofit marketing mail rates to increase by an average of 7.8%. This included 5.7% for first-class letters, 10.4% for large envelopes, newsletters and magazines and 8.6% for parcels.

NRECA joined with the ANM to fight the new rates, and ANM joined a lawsuit against the commission for allowing the nonprofits’ postage rates to jump higher than current inflation.

However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled last November that the rate hike was within the commission’s authority under the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act and that it satisfied the Administrative Procedure Act’s requirement of “reasoned decision-making.”

ANM Executive Director Stephen Kearney said that with a record $24 billion in cash and $107 billion in relief from Congress, the Postal Service does not require 6.8% to 8.8% rate hikes as authorized. USPS will file the level of its next rate increase with the commission in April.

“We and other mailer groups are now trying to convince the USPS to not use its full rate authority,” Kearney said. “Mailers are also being hit by other cost increases for paper, fuel and trucking that are driven by supply and demand.

“If USPS uses all the authority, it will lead to a second record set of increases in less than a year. USPS could and should defer its use of the full authority.”

Cathy Cash is a staff writer for NRECA

NRECA President Chris Christensen: ‘Collaboration Must Remain a Hallmark’ of Co-ops

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Continued collaboration among electric cooperatives will help all co-ops face the challenges of an uncertain future, NRECA President Chris Christensen told co-op leaders Tuesday at NRECA’s PowerXchange.

“It’s that diversity of experience that allows us to work together to tackle common challenges,” the Montana rancher and former teacher said. “Some are specific to the electric cooperative network. Others are consistent across the entire electric sector, and we can share common solutions just as broadly.”

That doesn’t mean there’s a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to co-ops, said Christensen, who serves as a director at NorVal Electric Cooperative in Glasgow, Montana.

“Our friends at Pedernales in Texas and their 872 employees are going to approach a common issue like a rate change differently than our newest NRECA member, Isle au Haut in Maine, which has one full-time employee,” he said.

“Nonetheless, we can and should continue to collaborate as much as possible—here in Nashville and after we’ve returned home. There are always experiences to learn from, and our commitment to collaboration must remain a hallmark of electric cooperatives.”

As NRECA’s president, Christensen has visited co-ops throughout the country and seen firsthand how they build on shared ideas. One example came when he told colleagues from other co-ops about NorVal’s requirement for directors to earn certain NRECA leadership credentials.

“In the weeks after I shared that experience, several colleagues shared with me that they not only put that idea into practice, but they built on it,” he said. “And some adjusted it to suit their specific needs, adding additional local learning opportunities or tying learning to rewards. Sharing our experiences and learning from each other, that’s the cooperative spirit that helps us face an uncertain future together.”

Attending PowerXchange and learning from one another is a way that leaders are “taking a proactive step for our co-ops.”

“Apply what you’ve learned here,” Christensen said. “Take ideas you get today back to your co-op and put them to good use. Continue to educate yourself and share your experiences with your fellow leaders back home.” 

Cooperation among co-ops is key to ensuring that leaders are taking action “to be successful for future generations for our members,” he said. 

“I say bring it on. Our co-ops are smart, capable and stronger when we work together.”

Author: Erin Kelly

Matheson: Electric Co-ops Help ‘Keep Our Communities Moving Forward’

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—NRECA CEO Jim Matheson welcomed more than 5,000 attendees to the 2022 PowerXchange with a message lauding electric cooperatives’ reputation and accomplishments as well as their aspiration to move their communities forward.

“That’s what I respect most about the work you do,” Matheson said at the March 7 general session. “And it’s my motivation to keep improving—to keep searching for ways we can be better.”

Matheson noted that electric co-ops are viewed as a trusted source by Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill about where their communities stand, and he discussed how NRECA has worked to fortify that reputation. 

NRECA is using more effective ways to reach elected officials, including digital and social media tools, modernizing its grassroots outreach, and creating stronger connections between members of Congress and the electric co-op communities they were elected to represent, Matheson said. 

“We’ve actually tested the results and measured our progress. We know these efforts are paying dividends for NRECA and for you,” he said. “Today, our reputation in Washington is more durable than ever.

“When policymakers look at every other organization in the energy industry, they see a partisan set of special interests. They see a friend or a foe, based on their politics. But when they look at America’s electric cooperatives, they see communities. They see people. They see you. As a result, in Washington D.C., we stand out,” he said.

Matheson outlined four co-op values he highlights when meeting with policymakers: 

• Co-ops strengthen communities through innovation and member support.
• Co-ops provide essential services such as broadband where no one else will.
• Co-ops provide reliable service from a resilient system.
• Co-ops accelerate the advancement of technology in rural America.

“This is our job at NRECA,” Matheson added, “to help create the foundation so you can do your best work to serve your members. To be a voice for the good you represent and the possibilities you create in your community.

“We always say the electric co-op is about serving the member at the end of the line,” he said. “But when you challenge yourself … and aspire to a larger purpose and a greater good, the thing about the end of the line becomes the fact that you never really get there. There’s always something more we can do to keep our communities moving forward.”

Author: Cathy Cash

Pennyrile Electric in first phase of broadband deployment

joint effort between Pennyrile Electric and Hopkinsville Electric System to bring high-speed fiber internet to consumer-members is underway.

In a new video posted this morning by Kentucky Electric Cooperatives, Pennyrile Electric CEO Alan Gates says the first phase of the “energynet” buildout now underway is expected to be complete within two years. 

“And beyond that, I mean our ultimate goal is to reach every end member of Pennyrile Electric within five years,” Gates says, explaining that large communication providers declined to serve rural areas where co-ops serve only two or three customers per mile of line.

Click here to watch the video which includes comments from Pennyrile Electric members excited about the broadband service to help with education, farming, health care and quality of life.

“We want great member satisfaction. We feel that this is a way to connect to our members, providing a service that no one else was willing to bring them, much like we did with electricity in 1936 and 1937,” Gates says.  We’re a service company, so we want to do everything that we can to serve our membership, and just try to be able to do that without affecting the electric rate, from that, we will provide connectivity to our entire membership.”

Funds allocated through Christian, Trigg, and Todd County Fiscal Courts will allow Pennyrile Electric to move forward with the project, while preserving a business model that protects the integrity of the electric side of the business.

“What’s so good about what we’re doing is it’s going to be out in the rural areas,” says Clayton Miller, lead fiber technician with Pennyrile Electric. “The rural areas, they don’t have access to this. So, this is really going to be a big jump for them compared to people who live in the city. So you can have the big city feel and the technology side but still live out in the country.”

Three packages are offered for the energynet service:

  • 200 mbps home package is offered at $59.95/month.
  • 500 mbps gamer edition package is offered at $79.95/month.
  • Full speed service with speeds up to 1 gigabit is offered at $99.95/month.  

Each energynet package includes whole-home wifi and 24/7 local support with unlimited data usage and no contracts. 

Co-op Crews Restore Power After Major Winter Storm Pummels Wide Swath of U.S.

Electric cooperative crews in seven states restored service to more than 60,000 meters after last week’s massive winter storm.

Co-ops in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio reported significant outages on their systems, said Sid Sperry, an electric cooperative consultant who specializes in weather-related reliability issues.

“At the peak of the outages, our statewide total topped 15,000,” said Rob Roedel, a spokesman for Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc., adding that most of the affected co-ops were able to handle restoration with local personnel and contractors.

“Only C&L Electric Cooperative Corp. headquartered in Star City, Arkansas, needed help, and they received mutual aid assistance from the statewide association and from Petit Jean Electric Cooperative Corp., headquartered in Clinton,” Roedel said.

C& L Electric wrapped up restoration to about 6,300 of its affected members Saturday morning.

In Tennessee, crews worked through the weekend to complete most restoration.

“Damage caused by ice was widespread and create extended power outages,” said Trent Scott, vice president of corporate strategy for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “We had a total of 24,000 meters out on co-op lines at the height of the event last Thursday.”

Somerville-based Chickasaw Electric Cooperative had about 14,000 of its 21,000 meters out and was down to less than 300 meters out by Sunday morning, wrapping up restoration work Monday afternoon.

Gibson Electric Membership Corp., which serves eight counties in western Tennessee and four in western Kentucky, reported nearly 2,900 of its 39,000 meters out of service last Thursday, but all members who could safely receive power on their property had service restored by Friday evening.

“Ice is extremely challenging for utilities,” said Dan Rodamaker, president and CEO of Trenton, Tennessee-based Gibson EMC, adding that both the co-op’s electrical system and its high-speed internet fiber network were affected. 

“We sincerely appreciate our members’ patience and understanding as we have worked to restore electric and fiber service,” Rodamaker said. 

Kentucky co-ops reported about 8,500 members out, with Henderson-based Kenergyaccounting for about half of that. Most restoration work was completed by late Friday.

In Ohio, crews worked to restore power to 28,000 members in seven co-op-served territories. Lancaster-based South Central Power Company had about 21,000 of its more than 122,000 meters out following the storm, and restoration work to about 2,300 members continued Tuesday.

Co-ops in Indiana, Illinois and surrounding states reported scattered outages with most of those restoration projects resolved by local crews.

Derrill Holly is a staff writer for NRECA.

The Co-op Way | Donations for western Kentucky from Ohio cooperatives

Employees from Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives in Columbus, OH delivered more than $9,000 worth of items from donors across Ohio and Kentucky this week.

Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives (OEC), which comprises 24 rural electric cooperatives across Ohio, accepted donations from cooperative members, donors in central Ohio and Common Thread, a faith-based organization that provides hand-crafted quality of life items to children and families in need. Items included hats, scarves, quilts, wool blankets and tiny crochet angels for West Kentucky RECC to distribute to those affected by the December tornado.

In addition to the items delivered, several rural electric cooperatives sent cash donations in excess of $10,000 to the Kentucky Rural Disaster Relief Fund.  The fund, organized by Kentucky Electric Cooperatives, the statewide trade association, assists cooperative members who face challenges after disasters and for the aid of communities served by co-ops.

To learn more about the fund, visit

To learn more about Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives, visit

Co-op Crews in Southeast Wrapping Up Restoration Efforts After Winter Storm

Electric cooperative line crews worked early this week to restore service to more than 100,000 meters in several states following a weekend winter storm that caused widespread damage to power lines and utility poles across parts of the central and Eastern U.S. While work continued in some areas Tuesday, most co-op members had power restored by late Monday.

“The rate at which service is restored has varied based upon hundreds of fallen trees which must be cleared and removed,” said Terri Statham, manager of media relations for Georgia Electric Membership Corp. The statewide association reported about 70,000 co-op-served meters out after snow, ice and high winds blasted across the state.

About 2,900 meters, primarily in northeastern Georgia, were still without power early Tuesday. Restoration work continued across the service territory of Clarkesville-based Habersham EMC, said Statham, adding that parts of the state received as much as eight inches of snow.

Co-ops across the Southeast had prepared for serious service disruptions based on forecasts heading into the weekend. Arrangements were made for mutual aid from states outside the threatened region, and some crews still working in the area following storms earlier this month were repositioned to assist where needed.

In Kentucky, co-op crews and contractors worked Tuesday to restore power to about 6,500 meters. Gray-based Cumberland Valley Electric reported about 3,400 meters out, and Jackson Energy Cooperative, headquartered in McKee, was working through outages affecting about 2,700 meters on its system.

The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina reported about 2,200 outages Tuesday morning. Most of those were on systems serving members in northern, inland areas of the state. Pageland-based Lynches River Electric Cooperative was working to restore service to about 1,300 of its meters, and Pickens-based Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative had nearly 700 meters out.

In North Carolina, co-ops reported 18,400 meters out of service Sunday afternoon, but crews began assessing damage and restoring power as weather conditions improved. High winds pushed outage numbers beyond 20,000, but less than 4,000 meters remained out of service by midday Monday. By dawn Tuesday, about 150 co-op-served meters were without power.

Co-op crews continue to take pandemic mitigation precautions, sequestering crews for lodging and meals. Some statewide associations have reported shortages of contractors due in part to COVID-19 exposures.

Derrill Holly is a staff writer for NRECA.