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Jul 5, 2022

From the Manager’s Desk:
The Balance of Power

Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC), the wholesale cooperative that serves the electric needs of Petit Jean Electric Cooperative, is focused on meeting the needs of the future by providing and maintaining a reliable and diverse portfolio of energy resources that provides a reliable, balanced generation mix. These diverse energy resources include coal, natural gas and hydropower that provide baseload energy 24 hours a day. The remainder of AECC’s energy resources currently include intermittent wind and solar resources that currently receive federal subsidies, which enable these supplementary resources to provide low-cost energy.

Challenges facing our cooperatives:

  • Generation resources must be utilized based on reliability and cost, while owned and purchased resources must also be used in the most responsible, appropriate way.
  • Evolving national, regional and statewide legislative policies, regulations and federal mandates could adversely impact our ability to deliver an effective, dependable balance of power to our members at an affordable price and in a reliable manner.
  • Generation operations must exactly balance the amount of energy produced with the amount of energy consumed while keeping power voltage and frequency constant.
  • Wind and solar facilities are completely dependent on environmental factors like the amount of wind and sunlight, which is why energy storage is important.
  • Even the most capable lithium-ion battery energy storage levels are measured in hours, not days or weeks.
  • More robust storage capabilities need to be developed to make intermittent generation a reliable resource.
  • As demand for electric load increases relative to available electricity supply, higher prices will result. Increased demand with insufficient supply could potentially create rolling blackouts or load curtailment.
  • A misconception in the debate about energy generation is that if a megawatt of nuclear, coal or natural gas capacity is removed from the grid and replaced with a megawatt of an intermittent resource like solar or wind, it is an equal swap.
  • Utilities in our region have announced the closure of 24,000 megawatts of generation resources over the next decade, with plans to shut down an additional 10,000 megawatts of capacity by 2030.
  • Arkansas is scheduled to eliminate 3,337 megawatts of baseload power by 2030.

While AECC’s wind and solar portfolios are growing, these intermittent resources cannot provide the baseload power needed when the sun goes down and the wind stops blowing.

AECC continuously evaluates wholesale energy resource options to serve the state’s electric cooperative members. The cooperatives are technologically agnostic and support all forms of energy. AECC works to maintain an energy portfolio that best balances our mission of being reliable, affordable and responsible.

The development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) and advanced nuclear technology, as well as other emerging generation resources and adding more intermittent resources to the electric grid, are critical to the future of the nation. Overall, it is critical to maintain the Balance of Power — electrically, economically, militarily, socially and politically.

At Petit Jean Electric, our commitment to you is finding ways to keep your power Affordable, Reliable and Responsible.

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