Wind/Solar Hybrid Distributed Generation Project & LRES Natural Gas
Lake Region is a member-owned cooperative. You are not just a consumer, but an owner, too! That simple fact means that decisions are motivated by service and the best interests of our consumer-members.
Let me address this in terms of the electric utility industry’s three “R’s” — Reliability, Revenue, and Rates. We’ve been updating you as to the progress being made on our solar/wind hybrid power generation project which is now under construction. Concrete has been poured and we are cautiously optimistic that it will be generating electricity yet this fall. However, as with all projects, weather is a factor in its completion.
Our members have told us that they want to include more renewable electric generation sources in our power grid. This solar/wind hybrid project is a key step towards this important goal, yet its significance goes beyond being friendly to the environment. The diversification it provides our power grid adds to the system’s reliability. Additionally, electricity produced from today’s commercial-scale wind and solar technologies has become cheaper. Integrating cheaper electricity sources into the generation mix supports stabilization of retail electric rates. Rate stabilization has been a long-range strategic goal of our Lake Region board of directors, management, and staff. This major project will achieve benefits regarding both reliability and rates.
Lake Region works closely with Great River Energy, a generation and transmission cooperative that we contract with for the majority of our wholesale power. As we close out 2018, I’m very pleased to say that GRE’s wholesale rates coming into the new year are on track to remain stable. That’s another bit of good news for Lake Region members.
Lake Region is holding the line on expenses, while also developing new revenue sources. The end result is that we currently see no significant changes required in retail electric rates.
There is another major project in this scenario, too. Natural gas service has been expanded to Dent and Miltona with signups going well. Bringing natural gas service to communities which were previously unserved has been met favorably. We are providing new, much needed infrastructure to enhance the quality of life in these communities. People are happy to have the ability to access natural gas because it can mean lower heating costs for homes and businesses. We are currently around the 500 mark for natural gas accounts.
The revenues produced from our venture into natural gas service help offset expenses to Lake Region’s overall operation. As I’m certain you understand, Lake Region’s revenue comes through its energy sales—both electric and natural gas. This new service has created another revenue stream and helps stabilize rates.
There you have it — how the three “R’s” work together to create a strong cooperative. And who does this benefit? The answer is you, our Lake Region members.