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CFU Supports the Growth of Renewable Energy

Posted on Monday, August 28, 2017

The Cedar Falls Prairie Lakes solar project is a visible example of renewable energy in our community. While the 1.5 MW community solar garden is the largest in the state, it’s just a small step towards sustainable living.

CFU customers benefit from other less obvious sources of alternative energy. The renewable portion of our energy supply has grown ten-fold over the past decade, even though additional renewable energy is not produced here.

Most of the electricity used in Cedar Falls is purchased through a regional energy market. The market is administered by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO).

Think of the MISO energy market like a giant pool. Members generate energy that flows in every day. Members also purchase energy out of the pool to meet their communities’ daily electric needs.

The energy generated by nearly all of the wind turbines, fossil fuel and nuclear plants in Iowa flows into MISO’s power market daily. This includes energy produced at CFU’s off-site coal generating facilities in western Iowa.

Last year about 28% of the energy CFU purchased through MISO was generated by wind. That means the share of wind energy in our city’s electric supply has grown from 2% ten years ago to 28% last year, even though the wind turbines are not located in Cedar Falls.

"When CFU made the decision to enter the MISO market in 2009, one of the real benefits was access to large amounts of renewable energy," said Jim Krieg, General Manager.

CFU has invested heavily in transmission line and substation upgrades to support the movement of the wind energy produced in the state into our community.

The wind turbines in our market are also causing a significant reduction in the energy produced by fossil fuels. From 2008 through 2016, CFU’s total end use electric sales increased by 7%. At the same time, the total amount of coal burned in all of our plants decreased 33%.

We will continue to evaluate all energy sources available as we work to provide reliable, safe and economical power to the community.