by Sean Vanslyke – email@example.com
We were within seconds of rolling blackouts during February’s polar vortex. The electricity grid was stretched. The demand for energy surpassed supply in the middle part of the United States. The entire system nearly broke. If a power plant or a large transmission line would have failed, we would have had issues in southeast Missouri.
SEMO Electric Cooperative is blessed to be part of a cooperative network (Associated Electric Cooperative for generation and M&A Electric Power Cooperative for transmission) that upgraded facilities to handle extremely low temperatures after the 2018 polar vortex. The sustaining cold conditions still pushed us to the edge. Our cooperative partners (AECI, M&A), unlike organizations in Texas, didn’t kick hard decisions down the road. In Texas, people were left in need. Now, change will certainly occur and new energy infrastructure will be built. The polar vortex has given us a great opportunity to listen, learn and act.
Each year we spend countless hours implementing strategic plans to meet the total electricity demand at any given moment needed by thousands of member-consumers. During the polar vortex, our cooperative system set a new peak demand. The network was challenged. Are we prepared for the next polar vortex? We are likely to see some rate increases throughout our cooperative network to make infrastructure enhancements at the generation, transmission and distribution levels. We have already started work locally to upgrade distribution lines that struggled during the polar vortex.
SEMO Electric’s peak demand in 2021 will be factored into our electricity costs for 2022. It’s part of planning ahead to meet peak demand. Demand charges are intended to recover the cost of facilities (such as power transformers, wires and power plants) available to provide the maximum amount of electricity which members may require at any given time.
To understand demand, think about your vehicle’s speedometer and odometer. The demand at which you are using electricity is comparable to the speed you are driving the vehicle (speedometer). Your actual consumption is similar to the total distance in miles that is driven by the vehicle over a given time period (odometer). Simply, demand measures the speed at which you use electrical power.
SEMO Electric will consider a path forward for demand charges for all rate classifications. It would, more accurately, reflect the cost to the cooperative. It makes sense to unbundle the bill, especially now while people are paying attention to the energy industry. In the electricity world, it’s not how far you travel, but how fast you want to get there. Planning ahead matters. Power supply matters. You expect electricity. You matter.
Lineworkers will be honored on Lineworkers Appreciation Day in April. While it takes each employee (Team SEMO) across all departments to keep operations running smoothly at SEMO Electric Cooperative and GoSEMO Fiber, one of the more visible jobs is that of a lineworker. Team SEMO’s lineworkers and supervisors work around the clock and in all kinds of weather conditions to build and maintain overhead and underground electrical systems. We appreciate our lineworkers and all members of Team SEMO.
As we enter spring, let’s be ready for severe storms. They can be devastating. These storms may take down power lines to create hazardous situations for all of us, including Team SEMO. How long it takes to get your power restored depends on the extent of the storm’s destruction, the number of outages, and when it becomes safe for Team SEMO to get to the damaged areas. It is important we prepare for severe weather. Pay attention to meteorologists and listen to your gut. Take action to be safe and stay alive. You matter.
SEMO Electric’s Annual Membership Meeting is set for Thursday, May 13 at the Sikeston Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo grounds. It will be a drive-thru event, with the opportunity to park and listen to live music. Gates will open at 10 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. We plan to have live concert from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. We will hold a business meeting at 6 p.m. live on Facebook, GoSEMO Fiber’s Local Channel 95 and on Classic KYMO 105.3 FM. Again, gates open at 10 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Drive-thru to say hello, vote, receive an attendance gift and get a $15 bill credit. Look for more information in next month’s Rural Missouri.
Book of the Month: "Great thinkers don't boast about how much they know; they marvel at how little they understand. A mark of lifelong learners is recognizing that they can learn something from everyone they meet. Arrogance leaves us blind to our weaknesses. Humility is a reflective lens: it helps us see them clearly. Confident humility is a corrective lens: it enables us to overcome those weaknesses." Think Again by Adam Grant
Be smart. Act safe.
Vanslyke is general manager and chief executive officer of SEMO Electric Cooperative. On the cover is Team SEMO's Meghan during Polar Vortex 2021.