Powering the Future
CFU is evaluating adding a local reciprocating engine electric generating power plant.
We are looking to the future to position ourselves to continue to provide reliable and affordable power for our growing community.
The proposed plant would be highly efficient, support community resiliency, complement the abundant renewable energy in our market, offer fuel flexibility and help keep energy costs low for customers.
The new power plant would be owned by CFU and join the regional energy market. CFU and many utilities in the Midwest are members of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO). Utilities like CFU are required to be part of regional groups like MISO. The energy generated by the wind turbines, fossil fuel and nuclear plants across the region flows into MISO's power market daily. Members also purchase energy out of the market to meet their communities' daily electric needs. MISO is the organization in charge of managing the balance of supply and demand of the regional energy grid to ensure efficiency and reliability. CFU’s new plant would support these goals and provide benefits for our customers.
Efficient and Reliable
Reciprocating engines are highly efficient and produce less emissions than older coal and natural gas plants. The engines help support the reliability of our electric grid because they can be turned on in minutes and ramp up or down quickly to respond to energy demand.
Adding local generation would help CFU meet the needs of our customers and support resiliency. Power plants in Cedar Falls allow CFU to continue to provide energy to our customers even when regional electric grid operations are impacted by a major storm event or extreme weather.
CFU’s current local generating facilities include two gas combustion turbines and the Streeter Station power plant on Utility Parkway, which can burn natural gas or coal. These facilities have nearly 88 megawatts of total generating capacity, but the equipment is aging. A new reciprocating engine plant in Cedar Falls would provide energy stability into the future.
Support Renewable Energy
Reciprocating engines are always available and complement the abundant renewable energy in our Midwest power market. Many coal-fired plants and some nuclear plants have closed in our region. More than 60% of the energy in Iowa is from renewable sources, but that energy is variable and fluctuates based on available wind and sun. Fast-starting reciprocating engines support renewables by providing energy quickly when wind and solar aren’t available and demand is high.
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.
Positive Financial Impact
CFU's power plants help control costs for our customers. When market prices are high, CFU can produce electricity, reducing the amount of expensive energy CFU needs to buy off the market to supply to customers. We expect a new reciprocating engine power plant would produce significant power market and capacity revenue and help keep rates low for customers.
There are many steps in the evaluation of a new generation resource. Preliminary analysis of the project has been completed and CFU is working on a detailed long-range plan that will include the total generation capacity that should be installed, required substation and transmission system improvements, a location for the facility and financial impacts.
The CFU Board of Trustees will continue to evaluate this potential new generation. Work is being done now to prepare the Electric Utility to be in the best financial position for the large investment. If the project moves forward, the utility will likely issue bonds to help pay for the new generating plant.