Smart, Deliberate Grid Management
Ensuring reliable and affordable electricity with thoughtful electric grid decisionsBy Amadou Fall
Our nation’s electric grid — the system of generation plants, transmission lines, substations and distribution lines that deliver power to your home — is a massive, complex machine. And with new, smaller distributed sources of electricity generation and innovative technologies being added to the grid, it’s becoming more complex every day. For many electric utilities, managing this new complexity is a growing challenge, leading to national headlines about cost and reliability concerns.
But in North Carolina, electric cooperatives are getting ahead of that change, working in new ways to ensure we do our job to deliver reliable, affordable and sustainable power to your home.
You can think about the work we’re doing on the grid in two categories: there are the new technologies and resources being physically added, and there are new ways to manage those resources and keep them secure.
On the physical side, North Carolina’s electric cooperatives receive power from a diverse mix of energy resources, predominantly made up of nuclear generation, natural gas, renewable energy and purchased power. More than half of our power is currently carbon-free, and we have a target to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
More than half of our power is currently carbon-free, and we have a target to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Projects supporting this goal while enhancing resilience and reliability include new solar + storage sites across the state, which will generate more than 23 megawatts (MW) of energy; the installation of cutting-edge battery technology in 10 rural communities; and co-op microgrids at five sites that are connected to the grid, but can operate independently of it if need be to keep critical services online.
On the grid management side, we have developed a cutting-edge capability called the “distribution operator.” This new capability provides a big-picture view of more than 500 MW of distributed energy resources across all 26 of North Carolina’s electric cooperatives, allowing us to coordinate the resources for improved reliability, affordability and sustainability.
The key to making all of this successful — to making it be a true benefit to you and electric co-op members across the state — is deploying these energy resources at a deliberate, measured pace. In making thoughtful decisions about the grid, we are making strides toward environmental and sustainability goals while keeping reliability our top priority.
This summer, as temperatures rise, rest assured that we will be managing the grid through times of high demand, ensuring that the electricity we provide remains a reliable, affordable and sustainable part of your life.
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.
About the AuthorAmadou Fall is COO of the North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation, which provides electricity to 25 member cooperatives in North Carolina.