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Electric Utilities are the Answer to any Energy Problem


May 17, 2016   By Elizabeth Kress in Energy Matters

Public power has served America with reliable, affordable electricity for more than a century and is blazing a new path with renewable, cleaner energy in the future.

Too often today, it seems much of the public sees electric utilities as “the problem.”  The problem could be any of several.

Take your pick: rates too high, global warming, too much carbon dioxide emissions, not enough renewables, etc.  This blog will argue that the electric utilities are, in fact, the future answer and solution to these problems.

Electric utilities will be there to supply the energy that meets the future needs of our country.  When the public decides that it wants more renewable or carbon-free power, electric utilities will be there to find the best mix of renewables or carbon-free generation to fill that need. If the homeowner decides to supply some of his own power needs with solar panels, the electric utility will be there as backup to make sure the lights stay on, even if it rains for a fortnight.

Utilities understand generation choices and costs, and how to operate an electric grid so that it delivers electricity where it is needed, and reliably. This is done at the lowest possible cost, using best available generating resources. The drivers and motivation are all there to compel us to keep that price of power low, and to keep that reliability high, for everyone.

If some force attempts to push the electric utilities outside the “possible” range, it is our responsibility to call foul and stay where we can best perform our functions for the benefit of all customers. Sometimes, you will hear “Yes, we can do that, but we will no longer be at this reliability, or that low cost, and so we must respectfully decline your request.”

With any significant change that impacts the generation and delivery of electricity, such as pending regulations to reduce carbon emissions, the electric utilities provide the one route available to make that dramatic change in a timely manner. The electric utilities will be the providers of most of that clean energy. Furthermore, the electric utilities will be responsible to hold it all together to maintain the electric grid at full power. That is what it means to maintain a balancing area. Power in by the electric utilities, equals power drawn out by the public.

Whatever tomorrow brings, we will get there at the lowest possible cost to supply the energy that the public wants and do it reliably. It’s why electric utilities exist. So, no matter what your energy problem is, the electric company is there with the solution.