From the Top with CEO Patrick Grace

We’re now about 18 months removed from the 2021 winter storm that wreaked havoc on the electric system and revealed some vulnerabilities when it comes to capacity concerns. Some of you may have even been affected by the rolling blackouts in February, 2021. While that particular event was a perfect storm of soaring natural gas prices, inoperable wind farms and high demand across all 14 states served by the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), it raised the public’s awareness of — and concern for — a potential repeat event in the future. Because of that, generation, transmission and distribution providers have planned accordingly in hopes to avoid capacity concerns in the near future.

OEC’s wholesale power provider, Western Farmers Electric Cooperative (WFEC), has always conducted capacity planning and is prepared for a wide range of outcomes no matter what extreme weather conditions arise. But, as part of the SPP, we are not only affected by what’s happening locally, but throughout all 14 states served by the SPP.

The good news is the entire electric system is interconnected and designed to help alleviate stressors. This means if one area is experiencing extreme conditions that are putting unusually high demand on one part of the system, power can be rerouted from a neighboring state.

We have always tried to alleviate the load on the electric system during the summer months, which is why we were one of the first co-ops in the nation to launch a time-of-use rate in 2009. We continue to encourage using large appliances during off-peak hours, no matter which rate you are billed. It not only costs less to produce electricity during off-peak hours, it helps prolong the life of existing infrastructure. The longer we can delay building new power plants, the longer we can keep costs low for consumers.

To explore our rate options and see our recommended energy efficiency solutions, visit Stay safe and cool this summer.

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