Tim Thompson’s CEO Column // September 2023

When I check my Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) app on my phone, it regularly shows (with some variation) approximately 80%-90% of MISO’s electricity generation coming from coal, natural gas, and nuclear. The Real-Time Displays pictured to the right is a screenshot I took from the MISO app on August 15th, and it provides a picture on a real-time basis of where the MISO footprint’s electricity is generated from. Please note the app does not represent just Minnesota, but represents the entire MISO footprint running from Manitoba to Louisiana. With that said, Minnesota is a bit ahead of the curve because in 2022, renewables accounted for 31% of Minnesota’s total in-state electricity net generation. Coal, natural gas, and nuclear accounted for 69%. Although Minnesota’s numbers aren’t as staggering as the MISO screenshot, we still have a long way to go to achieve Minnesota’s carbon-free standard signed into law earlier this year, and we must remain mindful of cost and reliability.

In a recent article and on national television, Jim Matheson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), talked about America having a reliability problem. CEO Matheson has stressed the need for lawmakers to acknowledge the reliability problem and identify the threats. He listed the following five issues that are currently impacting the reliable delivery of electricity across the nation:

  • Increasing demand for electricity as other sectors of the economy are electrified
  • Decreasing electricity supply due to the disorderly retirement and insufficient replacement of existing generation
  • Permitting delays that prevent new electric infrastructure from being built and connected to the grid
  • Supply chain challenges
  • Problems with natural gas availability

Darrick Moe, the CEO of our statewide organization, Minnesota Rural Electric Association (MREA), recently wrote an article published in the Star Tribune and it started out with “Minnesotans expect the lights to come on every time they flip the switch”.  To echo the sentiments of Darrick Moe, LREC and other experts in the industry want to make it clear that the path to a reliable carbon-free future presents a monumental challenge. I agree with Darrick that we must take an all-tech-on-deck approach and we cannot have mandates restricting our creativity when exploring emerging technologies when looking to the future. 

Minnesota Twins Clinic

LREC had a lot of fun hosting the Twins Free Youth Baseball Clinic in Pelican Rapids on Friday, August 4th. About 80 kids from all over our service territory and community attended the event. We received great feedback from many of them indicating they had a great experience. Based on the success of the event, we look forward to hosting similar clinics in different parts of our service area throughout the years! Many thanks to the Minnesota Twins, Great River Energy (GRE) for sponsoring the event, the Pelican Rapids School District for making its baseball facilities available for the event, and to all the kids and their families and friends for making this such a special event! Participants were provided with lunch and a GRE tote bag containing Twins baseball cards and a special LREC logoed baseball.

Lakes Area EV Event

We had a great time visiting with people at the recent Lakes Area EV Event held in Detroit Lakes on Saturday, August 12th. We provided folks an opportunity to drive our electric vehicle and we had our employee who drives our EV regularly participate on a panel with others sharing their personal EV experiences. This was LREC’s second year participating in this event and we look forward to other similar opportunities!