Managing change on behalf of members

Chris Meyers
General Manager
Oklahoma Association of
Electric Cooperatives

In a time of unprecedented change in the electric utility industry, your rural electric cooperative remains steadfast in their mission of advocating for you, their valued member. These changes come about as the greatest engineering achievement of the 20th century—the electric grid—undergoes ongoing transformation. 

Think of the U.S. electric grid as the largest machine in the country. The grid is a complex system that includes power generation plants, high-voltage transmission lines, substations, transformers as well as local distribution lines. These components of the grid connect electricity producers and consumers 24/7, ensuring the delivery of reliable electric power, as it is expected by consumers across the nation. Just like other “machines” have advanced over the years—like an automobile, a refrigerator, or even a telephone (now smartphones)—the grid has evolved significantly since its beginnings in the early 1900s. What started out as isolated electric utilities operating independently from each other has become an interconnected web that forms larger networks for reliability and shared efficiencies. 

The grid was built around large, central station power plants often located near the load they serve and primarily using fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. These power plants were long-term investments, which enabled utilities and consumers to benefit from economies of scale while ensuring demand for electricity was met no matter the time of the day. 

Today, as power plants reach the end of their useful life, there are opportunities to upgrade our electric infrastructure by integrating renewable energy generation sources such as wind and solar, which are often located far from where electricity demand is concentrated and far from existing transmission. Electric cooperatives are leaders in adding renewable energy sources to the power grid, installing utility-scale wind and solar projects as well as community solar projects throughout the nation. Other energy sources that can be integrated into the grid are known as distributed energy resources or DER. DERs are small-scale power generation sources that provide electricity to a site closer to the load source than a central generation station. DERs can come in the form of wind turbines, solar panels, internal combustion generators, fuel cells and others. 

Your electric co-op understands the industry is changing. Your co-op’s position is to be an active player in this transition by carefully and responsibly navigating through changes in a way that keeps your best interest at heart. As the grid evolves, electric cooperatives are committed to innovation, cooperation with the determination that any transition should be sustainable, affordable, fair, and reliable to you, our members. 

 

Safety for the New Year

Tim Smith
President
Oklahoma Association of
Electric Cooperatives

There is a sense of wonder and excitement with the New Year. It is the newness of an unknown chapter that we want to make the best it can be. We have dreams, aspirations, and we set goals to accomplish in the next 365 days. This year, as you plan and strategize, Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives encourage you to keep electric safety in mind not only for you, but also for your family, workplace and community. 

Your local electric cooperative is committed to ensuring every employee returns home safely to their families. Additionally, it’s important to your co-op to pass on helpful electric safety tips and information to their members. Co-ops are invested in enhancing quality of life for those they serve; that is why we make safety a top priority and devote time and energy to making everyone aware of how to stay safe around the powerful force of electricity. 

For example, your co-op will urge you to stay safe after storms and other natural disasters that could leave behind hidden electrical hazards, such as downed power lines and submerged electrical devices. 

If you’re working with tall ladders, cleaning gutters or trimming trees, or undertaking other projects outside, we remind you to look up and stay safely away from overhead power lines, especially those connected to your home. 

If a project involves digging, be sure to call 8-1-1 a few working days in advance to get underground utilities marked. 

Help children understand the importance of staying away from electric utility equipment, to never climb trees near power lines, and to fly kites in wide open spaces safely away from power lines. 

We value your safety and well-being and we’ll continue working to educate everyone on important safety precautions. To learn more about electric safety, we invite you to visit safeelectricity.org; it’s a great and informative resource available to you all year long. 

This New Year, as you make a list of resolutions, we encourage you to keep electric safety in the forefront of all you do. We wish you a happy and a safe New Year!