United Power President and Chief Executive Officer, Mark A. Gabriel, recently joined co-op CEOs Brian Heithoff, of Trico Electric Cooperative, and Eric Hobbie of Prairie Power, Inc. in a panel discussion about electric cooperatives’ role as Distribution System Operators (DSO) at the NRECA CEO Close-Up Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. The conference is attended by hundreds of cooperative CEOs and General Managers and held annually to provide CEOs with insight into industry trends and best practices for managing key challenges.
A growing number of electric cooperatives, including United Power, are moving toward a DSO model, which allows the utility to enhance its relationships with members, provide added services and proactively manage the grid with automation and smart technology. At United Power, continued projected growth and an opportunity to purchase cleaner and more affordable power from a variety of resources combined with the desire for more member-owned and locally generated renewable energy puts the cooperative in a position to take a more integrated and dynamic approach to delivering electricity.
“The energy landscape is undergoing a dramatic shift and the relationship that cooperatives like United Power already have with their member communities has us primed to lead this energy transition,” said Mark A. Gabriel, United Power President & CEO. “A locally-owned cooperative is nimble, innovative and responsive—and is exactly how utilities will need to operate in order to manage a resilient distribution system, efficiently integrate local micro-grids and facilitate the local exchange of energy.”
Gabriel discussed United Power’s 10 Year Working Plan and the strategic considerations the cooperative is undertaking as they move toward a DSO model. The working plan was developed by key staff at the cooperative and it serves as a comprehensive guide to align the board, employees, and members through this dramatic operational shift. By leveraging new technology, expansive energy resources, and updated operations, and new technology, United Power is actively advancing the local distribution system to adapt to the new ways it will provide value and reliable power for members.
“The 10 Year Plan is our playbook outlining the allocation of people, resources, and leadership attention as we drive toward an increasingly dynamic, sustainable, and complex energy future,” said Gabriel. “While we are working to deliver reliable power today, we are planning for the utility of tomorrow. We have started the conversations with our board and our members about what the future of energy will look like and the opportunities that lie ahead.”