April updates from LPEA

4/1/2021

In this edition of #LPEAwire, LPEA CEO Jessica Matlock answers some of your questions on LPEA's power supply, power reliability, and power costs, in the wake of the rolling blackouts in Texas.

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Hi, I'm Hillary Knox,

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VP of Member Experience at

La Plata Electric Association

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and this is your LPEA wire for April.

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In the wake of February's

rolling blackouts in Texas,

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LPEA has been fielding

questions from our members

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on the reliability of our

power now and into the future.

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I sat down with LPEA CEO, Jessica Matlock

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to discuss this question

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Jessica, thank you very

much for joining us.

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You know, as you know, we've

received a lot of questions,

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since the Texas blackouts

our members kind of curious

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about what we're doing to

ensure reliability and you know,

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one of the main questions

that we've gotten

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is how do we know that

what happened in Texas

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is not going to happen here?

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So what's your response to that?

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Yeah, it's a good question Hillary.

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I think a lot of us have

friends down at Texas

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so it is very dear and near to our hearts.

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So what we did right away

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is just make sure that our grid is stable.

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And we contacted a lot

of our partners to say

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"how are we protected in our state?"

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Our equipment out here

is weather protected

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for cold weather.

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Texas did not have those protections.

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So we know for a fact that

our gas wells will not freeze

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because we did place

extra equipment on those.

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Second is that Texas is

part of a independent grid.

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It's called ERCOT.

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We do not have that.

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We're part of the

Western Interconnect grid

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which is one of the largest

in the United States.

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So we have a great diversity

of energy that we can pull from

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to make sure that we

don't have the same issue.

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Another thing we're hearing a lot

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is there have been some that have claimed

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that an over-reliance on renewable energy

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specifically wind energy was

to cause for these outages.

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People also know that LPEA is exploring

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different types of renewable

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and low carbon energy for our future.

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So how would you answer

folks who want to know

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how we're going to

maintain our reliability

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even as we pursue low

carbon power sources?

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Yeah, that's a great question as well.

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So just to be clear though,

the outages in Texas

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were not solely the fault

of renewable energy,

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the wind turbines some of them did freeze

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because of cold weather

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but same with gas

pipelines, coal piles froze.

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So there was a larger supply

infrastructure issue in Texas.

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And because of that and because

they're independent grid

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they weren't able to

call across state lines

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to get additional energy.

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So for La Plata Electric,

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we do have a goal of

reducing our carbon footprint

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50% below 2018 levels.

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But at the same time,

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we're making sure that we do

that in an affordable way.

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So we won't go to that goal if

we cannot maintain our rates.

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So that's very important.

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And I think the other

thing we're thinking about

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is that yes, we'd like to

bring in renewable energy

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but you have to firm

it with base load power

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and the only base load power

today that's affordable

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and on the market, it is coal.

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It is natural gas.

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It's, hydro-power.

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There's some battery storage

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but that's still pretty expensive.

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So we're looking at all options.

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I don't think we have to

choose one over the other.

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The point is, is that we need

to diversify our energy mix

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so that we don't rely on

one source at all times.

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Great. Well, thank you so

much for your time, Jessica.

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Thank you.

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For more information

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on LPEAs future power supply discussions,

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visit our website at

lpea.coop/powersupply.

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And that's it for this

edition of LPEA Wire.

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Join us next month with more from LPEA.

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