Looking to the Future

Iowa is a renewable energy leader.  

Sixty-five percent of the energy produced in the regional power market and distributed in Cedar Falls in 2022 was generated by renewable resources. 

Iowa leads the country with most wind plus solar generation per square mile of land with 806.7 megawatt-hours, with Rhode Island coming in second with 626.7 megawatt-hours.

This renewable energy generated across the state benefits CFU customers even though all of the solar panels or wind turbines aren't located in Cedar Falls.

CFU is part of an energy market.

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. The energy generated by nearly all of the wind turbines, solar panels and fossil fuel plants in Iowa flows into the MISO power market pool daily. 

This includes our local Streeter Station power plant, natural gas turbines, solar array and our share of large power plants in western Iowa.

Members also purchase energy out of the pool to meet their communities' daily electric needs. Today that energy is largely renewable. Energy produced from renewable resources is up from just twenty-six percent ten years ago.

CFU is supportive of the wind and solar energy available in Iowa today and welcomes future additions. CFU operates a community solar garden and supports customers who add renewable generation. The electric utility has also made investments to upgrade transmission lines and substations and in joint owned projects across the state to support renewable energy. 

Reliable and affordable.

While the energy market shifts to renewable technology, controllable fuel-based generation continues to be important to ensure customers have reliable energy when they need it. Wind and solar are weather dependent and may not be available when demand is at its peak.

The good news is that CFU owns generating assets that help support the grid and control electric costs for customers during extreme weather. CFU continues to own and operate the Streeter Station power plant in Cedar Falls. In addition, CFU owns shares of large power plants in western Iowa.

CFU is also exploring adding fast-starting reciprocating engines to our generation portfolio. Reciprocating engines are highly efficient. The engines help support the reliability of our regional electric grid because they can be turned on and ramp up or down quickly when energy demand spikes or as renewable power supplies vary. 

Local generation allows CFU to continue to provide energy to our customers even when regional grid operations are impacted by a major storm event or extreme weather. 

Most reciprocating engine plants today run on natural gas, but they also offer flexibility when it comes to fuel. These engines have the potential to burn low or no carbon fuels if they become more widely available.

CFU's power plants also helps control costs for our customers. When market prices are high, CFU can produce lots of energy, reducing the amount of expensive energy CFU has to buy off the market to supply to customers. 

Looking forward. 

Cedar Falls Utilities will continue to own a diverse and robust mix of power resources to provide reliable and affordable service. We are doing our part by preserving traditional generation and investigating new resources that can help facilitate a smart transition to renewable energy.