R.E.A.L. power for today and tomorrow

Randy Price

Ringing in a new year sparks renewed hope and optimism about the future. As the CEO of Paulding Putnam Electric Cooperative, for me, it’s a time to reflect on where we are and where we’re going. At the heart of this reflection, I think about ways we can better serve you, the cooperative’s members.

Our team always looks ahead, exploring ways to innovate and utilize new technologies to improve our services. As our nation increasingly relies on electricity to power the economy, keeping the lights on has never been more critical. We’re committed to powering — and empowering — our community at a cost local families and businesses can afford.

So, how are we working to ensure R.E.A.L. (Reliable, Environmentally Responsible, Affordable, Local) power while adapting to a changing energy landscape and our community’s evolving needs?

One critical component of reliable power is the mix of energy resources used to generate the electricity that keeps the lights on across our service territory. You may not realize it, but PPEC doesn’t generate electricity. Instead, we purchase it from our member-owned Cardinal Power Plant (one of the cleanest of its kind in the world), and from there, we distribute it to homes and businesses throughout our community.

Our current energy resource mix comprises 89% coal from Cardinal, 4% hydropower and 2% solar energy, with the remaining mixture coming from natural gas, biodigesters, wind and other sources.

In September, I joined with other local co-ops, elected officials, and trustees from across our area to tour the Robert P. Mone Generating Station in Convoy, Ohio. The Van Wert County Mone facility is a 510-megawatt natural gas peaking plant operated by Buckeye Power, serving as a vital electricity generation asset in maintaining reliable electric service to Ohio’s electric cooperatives during the highest periods of demand. The plant is considered a “peaking” facility because it is utilized during peak times of demand — like on sweltering summer or frigid winter days — to keep up with power needs. This plant is crucial because our power generated from wind and solar is intermittent and not available 24/7/365.

Price with Rep. Klopfenstein
PPEC CEO Randy Price, left, with Rep. Roy Klopfenstein, center.

Plant members shared research on energy storage solutions with the group but cited many limitations and cost prohibitions. Plant personnel pride themselves on the advancements made to the plant to ensure reduced emissions.

We’re increasingly using more electricity generated from renewable energy sources. However, we still depend on our clean-emission coal power plant to ensure reliable power is available to our members whenever they need it.

In addition to managing reliable energy, PPEC uses technology and artificial intelligence to enhance our local grid, limit service disruptions, and improve outage response times.

Advanced metering infrastructure, or AMI, enables two-way communication between the co-op and consumers. In the event of a power outage, AMI helps pinpoint the exact location of the outage and can even analyze damaged or tampered meters. This helps us to save money with real-time data and ultimately improves power reliability for our entire community.

Proactive tree trimming is another way we limit service disruptions. Scheduled trimming keeps power lines clear from overgrown limbs that are likely to fall.

One of the best methods for improving our services to you is monitoring trends and leading practices from other electric co-ops in our area and across the country. Learning from other co-ops is one of the many benefits of the cooperative business model because it’s about cooperation, not competition.

As we turn our focus to 2024, PPEC will continue working to provide the R.E.A.L. electricity you expect and deserve — for today and tomorrow.

Tour of Mone Generating Station
Legislators present on the Robert P. Mone Generating Station tour included Rep. Angie King, Rep. Tim Barhorst, Rep. Roy Klopfenstein, Sen. Rob McColley, and Nicole Giesige, district representative for Rep. Latta, as well as CEOs, board members, and other guests.

ATTENTION: PPEC is doing what we can, but electric grid reliability is a concern nationwide due to government policy. If the state experiences extreme cold this winter, blackouts across the region could be possible, according to the latest study from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). Read more online and see how you can take action at PPEC.coop.