A balanced fuel mix promotes power reliability

Posted on Jul 02 2021 in Decatur County REMC
Brett Abplanalp

As I’ve noted in my past columns, the energy industry is undergoing a dramatic transformation as consumer demand for more renewable energy sources grows, and innovation and technology continue to advance exponentially. 

In your summer travels, you may have noticed fields of solar panels, along with an increase in solar panels on your neighbors’ roofs. Maybe you’ve heard about the impending changes in the transportation sector with most major vehicle companies announcing plans to offer more electric vehicles at more affordable prices. 

Consumer interest in renewable energy is strong and growing. In addition, national studies indicate that consumers expect companies to operate in an ethical and responsible manner — including when it comes to the environment.  

At Decatur County REMC, we have always put the good of our community first. While our primary function is to provide reliable and affordable energy to our members, we are more than an electricity provider. Because we are a co-op, enriching the lives of our members and serving the long-term interests of our community is our mission. We feel we’re doing both by supporting renewable energy sources.

Green energy is certainly not new. Solar, wind and hydro power have been around for decades. However, recent innovations and advances in renewable technology have led to sharp decreases in cost, making it more feasible and accessible. In recent years, Hoosier Energy, our power supplier, has been able to adjust our fuel mix by utilizing more renewables. Today, 10% of our fuel mix is comprised of renewable energy sources. That’s an increase of 6.5% compared to three years ago. 

However, to borrow a nautical analogy, it takes a long time to turn the direction of a large ship –– and changing the energy mix we use to power homes and businesses doesn’t happen overnight. While renewable energy use is increasing, we will still depend on traditional forms of energy to keep power flowing reliably to your home. After all, solar and wind energy are referred to as “intermittent” power since the sun does not always shine and the wind does not always blow. This fact coupled with the growing demand for renewables creates its own challenges. That’s why there is real value in maintaining a balanced mixture of fuel types to ensure reliability, resiliency and meet the growing demand for electricity. 

As the energy industry continues to evolve, Decatur County REMC, along with Hoosier Energy, is taking advantage of technology advances and market opportunities as they become available. This means we can leverage the grid’s flexibility to offer a wider range of renewable power selections as we continue to bring safe, reliable and affordable power to our community. 

Albert Einstein once observed that, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” In order for our cooperative to meet the growing demand for renewable energy and ensure the reliability of our power supply, we must constantly make operational adjustments as we strive for balance and a brighter future for our members.