Affordability: The Key to a Sustainable Future - Carolina Country

Affordability: The Key to a Sustainable Future

If programs and technology aren’t cost-effective, they simply aren’t sustainable

By Greg Andress

Greg Andress

Greg Andress, EVP and GM of Union Power Cooperative

As we look to the months and years ahead, electric cooperatives and their members in North Carolina have reason to be excited. As you’ve likely read in past issues, or heard about from your local electric co-op, electric co-ops statewide are working together to create a brighter future for our rural communities for generations to come.

Our vision involves several priorities, including community support, leveraging new technologies to deliver power across a resilient grid, and pursuing sustainable sources of energy to reduce carbon emissions over time.

That last part — sustainability — is critical to ensuring we can continue to meet our members’ expectations in delivering reliable power to homes and businesses far into the future (learn more about sustainability in Q&A: Sustainability and Electric Co-ops). But there is a key component to make all aspects of the brighter future initiative truly sustainable: affordability. If programs and technology aren’t cost-effective, they simply aren’t sustainable. That fact resonates all the more as we do business as not-for-profit cooperatives, owned and guided by our members.

North Carolina’s electric co-ops recognize that how we achieve sustainability goals matters; our members’ top priority continues to be reliable electricity, delivered at the lowest possible cost. We remain committed to providing just that, integrating affordability in all decisions made on behalf of our members.

If programs and technology aren’t cost-effective, they simply aren’t sustainable. That fact resonates all the more as we do business as not-for‑profit cooperatives, owned and guided by our members.

On the utility side, this means selecting technologies that help us do our job more efficiently. That could be through the use of advanced meters that help us better pinpoint outages, thus saving time scouting powerlines for damage after a storm. Other technologies that allow for more centralized control of all aspects of the grid help us reallocate resources during times of high demand, ensuring electricity is there for all when they need it without necessarily having to generate additional power.

On the consumer side, a focus on affordability and sustainability means helping you make the most of the electricity you use. Co-ops can send members alerts notifying them of higher-than-normal usage. Some offer different electric rates based on when and how power is typically used. And your electric co-op can offer advice on all aspects of how power is used in homes, businesses and on farms, whether it’s as simple as heating and cooling more efficiently with proper insulation and a programmable thermostat, or a more advanced audit to find ways to save money by switching to electric technologies over those using fossil fuels. Even in this time of social distancing, your electric co-op has experienced energy specialists on staff who can troubleshoot energy issues and give advice over the phone to help members use energy more efficiently.

As you hear more in the coming years about electric co-op efforts to create a brighter future, whether through deploying advanced technologies across the grid or reducing carbon emissions, you can rest easy knowing we are doing it all with your pocketbook in mind. In this decade and beyond, we will continue our commitment to providing reliable electricity at the lowest possible cost while advancing the pursuit of responsible sustainability goals. After all, if a plan is not affordable, it’s simply not sustainable.

A Brighter Future

Our long-term plans are guided by each electric co-op’s local roots and focus on delivering value to cooperative members and their communities. Learn more about the sustainability and efficiency goals of North Carolina's electric cooperatives.

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About the Author

Greg Andress is executive vice president and general manager for Union Power Cooperative in Monroe.

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