Sustaining a reliable electric system

Posted on Jun 11 2023 in Noble REMC
President and CEO

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” This is often said when someone is about to do something foolish or risky. If they heed this advice, it means they did not commit to “one basket,” but instead hedged their bets with multiple options. 

This strategy is how I describe Noble REMC’s common-sense approach to the current energy transition. 

Unfortunately, we currently don’t have the alternative generation resources to replace fossil fuel completely. If natural gas and coal plants are allowed to close as electrical demand continues to grow, the electric grid will continue to be taxed. The fear is that if we continue to close fossil fuel plants at an alarming rate, we will run into shortfalls of energy when we need it. We are already seeing this in multiple states with rolling blackouts when capacity is in short supply.  

Over the last few years, Noble REMC and our power supplier, Wabash Valley Power Alliance, have adjusted our fuel mix by utilizing more renewables, and today, 17% of our fuel mix is comprised of renewable energy, the majority of which is solar and wind. That’s an increase of 10% since 2017. 

Nationally, there is an increasing push toward shutting down all fossil fuel power plants on too quick of a timeline, which is concerning when we don’t have a 24-hour replacement energy source. We’re seeing fossil fuel plants taken offline, often ahead of schedule. Additionally, we’re seeing more pressure on the electric grid due to the increasing frequency and intensity of severe weather events and rising electricity demand.

Competing pressures 

So, how do we reconcile these challenges of grid pressure and a changing fuel mix? Solar and wind energy are certainly beneficial for the environment, but they are limited resources because the sun does not always shine, and the wind does not always blow. Our primary responsibility is to provide electricity 24/7 to you and our community. To do this, we need reliable sources of power that will meet all the peaks and valleys of on-demand energy in our connected world.

That’s why we spread our eggs into multiple baskets. There is great value in maintaining a diverse mix of fuel sources — both fossil fuels and renewables — to ensure reliability and resiliency, as well as to meet the growing demand for electricity. 

The bottom line

Lowering the overall carbon footprint in this country means we’re going to electrify more and more of our economy. Solar and wind power are an important part of a broader energy portfolio, but they are not available 24/7. In today’s ever-connected world, people need power around the clock. 

As our nation increasingly depends on electricity to power the market, Noble REMC is working to anticipate, plan and respond to market trends and policy shifts. That’s how we can power your home and our economy, while continuing to serve as your local energy provider.