Keeping electricity reliable

light switch“We can no longer take 24/7 availability of electricity for granted,” said Pat O’Loughlin, president-CEO of not-for-profit Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives. “Ohioans expect the lights to come on when they flip a switch and it’s our job to make sure it does.” But that job is harder today, especially during extreme weather. The reliability of electricity and the resiliency of the nation’s electric grid are at risk—and it’s getting worse as more electric cars hit the road.

What’s impacting reliability and grid resiliency?

The local co-ops that distribute electricity do a great job. So do the plants that generate and transmit power to Ohio’s co-ops, but there aren’t as many plants producing reliable, affordable electricity across Ohio today. 

In 2009, Ohio had 21 coal plants—today there are four. Costly EPA regulations forced many to close prematurely. 

Natural gas plants helped fill the gap, but the EPA is coming after natural gas, too. Nuclear power plants take decades and billions of dollars to build. 

Wind farms and solar arrays cover Ohio. They’re a key part of the power generation mix for Ohio’s electric cooperatives but they’re intermittent resources—meaning they’re only available when the wind is blowing, and the sun is shining. They’re not always available on-demand, like coal.  

On a very cold day when the need for electricity is high and supply is low, the nation’s electric grid is less resilient, and the risk of forced rolling power outages increases. 

What can Ohioans do to keep electricity reliable?

Having an energy efficient home or business is a start. Conserving energy during extreme cold or heat also helps keep electricity reliable.

Keeping coal and natural gas in the generation mix with renewables, also keeps electricity reliable.

Balancing reliability and environmental responsibility ensures electricity will be there when Ohioans need it most. Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives have spent over $1 billion in carbon emissions reducing technology and will continue to innovate. However, reducing carbon emissions must not take priority over providing Ohioans reliable, affordable, safe electricity to power our lives, businesses, and economy. It’s a matter of public health and safety.

About Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives

Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives is a not-for-profit statewide organization, who along with Buckeye Power, a not-for-profit generation and transmission cooperative, serves 25 member-owned electric cooperatives, who distribute electricity to 380,000 homes and businesses in 77 of Ohio’s 88 counties.

Ohio's Electric Cooperatives

 

Caryn Whitney is Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives director of communications.

Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
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