An Energy Update from Steve Bernard
A Letter from CFU General Manager Steve Bernard
At Cedar Falls Utilities we do our best to provide our customers with safe reliable utility services that bring the best value to the community. CFU staff are honored to serve Cedar Falls residents and work to achieve this mission no matter what challenges the industry brings. The current potential energy shortfall our region is experiencing is no different.
Our regional power grid operator Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) recently issued an alert stating the Midwest region may not be able to generate enough electricity during peak demand times this summer. Peak electric demand usually occurs when temperatures are high and large amounts of electricity is used to cool buildings.
CFU and our community are doing our part. Our local distribution system is well-built and maintained as are our local generating resources including the Streeter Station power plant natural gas turbines and solar array. Thanks to conservation efforts by many of you our community’s peak electric demand has not increased since 2013. However keeping the interconnected regional power grid functioning is a group effort.
Thankfully to date our region has been able to generate enough energy to meet demand through some of the year's hottest days. Our local generation has proven valuable. We have run our Cedar Falls units much more frequently this summer in support of the region's energy needs and to save our customers money when market prices are exceptionally high.
It is highly unlikely that CFU would need to implement temporary controlled power outages (rolling blackouts) to accommodate the shortfall but we want customers to be aware of the situation. We ask customers to be cognizant of their electric use this summer not only to curtail our community's overall energy demand but to also help customers save money during a time when energy costs are higher than in recent years.
The challenge our region faces is complex. Power generation has been evolving in unprecedented ways shifting away from conventional resources towards weather-dependent renewables that may not be available when demand is at its peak. Fuel-dependent plants fired by coal natural gas or nuclear fuel that remain in service can be more prone to outages due to their advanced age and difficulties in procuring fuel. In addition to changes in generation another challenge to reliability in our region is the frequency and severity of extreme weather events.
New power generation will be required to rectify the shortfall our region is currently experiencing. The issue is a shared responsibility that states utilities and members of MISO will need to address in the years to come. In the meantime know that CFU is doing everything we can to prevent service interruptions and address the situation locally including exploring future generation options. Thank you for continued trust in CFU.