A balanced team for reliability

Posted on Mar 16 2024 in Jay County REMC

Neil Draper

The winningest basketball teams in history are ones that are consistent and have players with varying abilities. Some are better at shooting three-pointers, and some are best at defense. A balanced mix of skills can make a team a powerhouse on the court. The way to keep electricity reliable is a bit like that, too.

The power team first requires a foundation of consistent sources that can be put in the game whenever they are needed. Having enough “always available” fuel sources like natural gas and coal can ensure consistent power generation.

Just like a team needs different players for different situations, our power grid requires multiple sources to keep the grid running. Relying solely on one player to win every game is not an effective strategy — if they get injured, you will likely lose. Similarly, using a single fuel source for electricity generation poses a significant risk to energy reliability. Natural disasters, geopolitical tensions, or unforeseen disruptions can severely impact the supply chain of a particular fuel. A diverse mix of energy sources acts as a safeguard, ensuring that the grid remains operational despite unexpected challenges.

A diverse energy mix also enhances grid flexibility by accommodating the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources like solar and wind. Think of solar power like a team’s inconsistent three-point shooter. It’s awesome when the sun is shining bright, but what if it’s nighttime or a cloudy day? That’s where the other players — like wind, hydro, nuclear, natural gas, and coal — can step up and keep the team scoring.

Diverse fuel sources contribute to the stability and reliability of the electric grid. The different sources have varying characteristics, including generation patterns, responsiveness, and storage capabilities. This diversity allows for a more balanced and resilient energy system that can adapt to fluctuating demand and unforeseen circumstances. Having a mix of these energy sources is like having a team with different skills to handle various situations and scenarios.

A diverse set of energy sources is essential, but that’s not the only thing we need to have reliable electricity — or a winning team. Basketball teams are always trying out new plays or training rookies to create a versatile lineup. Similarly, electric cooperatives are constantly innovating to maintain reliability for tomorrow. But creating new ways to make our power sources more efficient and reliable takes time, money, and technological advances that aren’t necessarily ready yet.

As we continue to work on the innovations of tomorrow, the key to keeping our electricity reliable right now is ensuring a diverse “team” of fuels. Each one brings something unique to the table, and together, they make sure we have the power we need whenever we need it.