Power Shortage? Maybe
Because of electric
energy shortages creeping across our nation, electric cooperatives have
come up with a series of plans to avoid paying outrageous prices for marketpriced
power. My family and
yours are included in one of those plans.
If a situation
should arise where we need to import electric power from out of state,
electric cooperative members will be notified through radio and television
We will be asked
to alter our daily habits by limiting the use of major electrical appliances
for a brief period. We can easily comply by using only one major electric
appliance at a time.
For example, if
we are using the electric oven to prepare dinner, we can avoid running
the washing machine until later. Also, we will want to defer using large
amounts of hot water during the time another major appliance is in use.
If we do our
part, we can shave up to 5 percent off "peak" which normally occurs between
4 p.m. and 8 p.m. The overall savings for REC members would be measured
in millions of dollars.
When it comes
to electricity use, REC members have shown we are eager to conserve. To
ensure the success of this conservation plan, we should begin talking
about its importance before the hot weather arrives.
We have heard
plenty about the power blackouts in California. As they adopt desperate
measures to rectify their energy shortages, some of the pain will be felt
outside the Golden State. While we have enough generation capacity to
meet our needs, emergencies can and do occur.
A "power emergency"
can be described as an unscheduled shut down of a generating plant. That
usually happens when the output of the plant is needed the most.
In the past,
when emergencies occurred, we could readily import power from other states.
We had that capability because we built and controlled a reliable high
voltage transmission system.
of a change in federal law, others can buy capacity on the regional transmission
system. If we need to bring in power, we may find that someone bought
the rights to the transmission capacity we would need to make such a transaction.
It may not be available because someone is passing energy through our
Missouri system to a market where they will make more money.
We in Missouri
are now exposed to those uncertain and potentially costly market conditions.
We want to reassure
you the operators of REC-owned generation and transmission systems are
doing everything to maintain system reliability. And, it should give us
comfort to know they are planning for every contingency.
My family is glad
to know they will be asked to help if a power shortage is eminent. Are
we looking at a power shortage in Missouri? Not likely. But we need to
do everything we can to be ready for "maybe."
Stork was executive
vice president of the Association of Missouri
Electric Cooperatives and a member of Three Rivers Electric Co-op.