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by Share Brandt

Polar Vortex

Wow it’s more than 50 degrees today! I took the opportunity to enjoy warm weather by taking a stroll around the Capitol Square to soak up the sun. What a stark contrast to the frigid weather we’ve experienced, known to meteorologists as the Polar Vortex, a new phenomenon to most of us.

Weather conditions during this extremely cold January and February have had a significant impact on supply and demand of electricity. Electric utilities in conjunction with their regional reliability organizations have deployed all available energy generation sources and demand reduction programs.

In many regions this included requiring coal-fired generation plants slated to be shut down in the near future to be called into service. These plants, needed to ensure reliability and affordability, are the older coal plants that utility owners have deemed too expensive to retrofit for compliance with Clean Air Act regulations.

The electricity generated by these baseload generation plants will need to be replaced with other reliable resources capable of being dispatched to the market twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Renewable resources will also be added to the generation mix; however these intermittent resources cannot always be relied on during extremely cold or hot days of the year. Utilities are required to have adequate power supply available during peak electric use times.

Many of you participated in the demand reduction programs that helped to ensure electricity flowed reliably this winter. Hats off to you for signing up for your electric cooperatives’ Load Management Program options! Most electric cooperatives offer water heater, dual fuel heating and air conditioning load management programs.

By allowing the co-op to control your electric use during high demand periods you receive a special rate for the energy used by those appliances. The co-op adds a radio-controlled device to your appliance or to a separate meter. The device receives the signal to shut off for short periods during high demand events. Most control events are unnoticed by the consumer. During dual fuel heating control, you need to have an alternative source for heat ready to maintain steady temperatures.

Electric cooperatives have a long history of offering member-owners choices to participate in energy conservation programs. Ask your electric co-op how you can participate.



z© Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association