Our Cooperative Roadmap leads a list of amazing accomplishments in 2021. United Power took a different, and slightly longer, view of our actions and investments over the next decade. This was essential as we embrace the dramatic changes and tremendous opportunities taking place in the most critical infrastructure of all – electricity.
It is important to put the Roadmap in the context of our innovative history and community involvement. United Power pioneered technologies, installing the first cooperative community solar project, capturing methane gas from the Erie landfill to generate electricity, and installing the largest battery storage project in Colorado. We have expanded our electric vehicle (EV) charging network, examined how blockchain can facilitate member-to-member transactions, and partnered on a geothermal project with oil and gas operators to generate power in the field for use on site.
Our Roadmap has four priorities: empower and engage our membership and communities; provide flexible, affordable, sustainable power and services; continuously optimize our electric distribution system; and achieve and maintain business agility and resilience through information technology and operational technology (IT/OT) and system operations.
Engaging our members and communities means making programs available so you have a more active role in managing your electric bills while helping us manage the system more efficiently. What does this look like? Simply put, managing connected energy resources to avoid peaks, lower demand, and provide a benefit for all members.
We want to help our member communities grow into their vision of an ideal town or city. We want to be the power behind the spaces you call home. But with all our growth, it is important we also continue to perform well as a business. Optimizing our system promotes more efficiency, shorter outages, and better wildfire protection.
And what about your power? Should it be less expensive? Should it be generated closer to home? How can we be an active voice in the discussion about where energy is going in the next decade?
Flexibility in our power supply has many layers. First and foremost, United Power is seeking a new source for wholesale power. We can no longer live in an expensive, constrained generation environment. We must be in position to take full advantage of coming power markets. This is truly about economics – keeping dollars in our communities, lowering rates, and being able to work with members and others who want to generate more cost-effective electricity. If you want to learn more about how we are planning for these future changes, join us for our Power Supply Forum on June 7 (Details here).
Underlying all these initiatives is the need for technology that will allow us to move to the next level. We need to collect and analyze information about our system and provide automated solutions that give members control over their energy usage. Events of the past couple years have tested and confirmed our ability to deliver these solutions to people working beyond the office.
There are other utilities fighting the future and trying to keep inefficient generation on the market, failing to embrace technology, markets, and member engagement opportunities. Holding onto the past, be it business models or technologies, has never worked.
What does the future look like for United Power? Abraham Lincoln is to have said, “the best way to predict the future is to create it.” We are doing just that thanks to the tremendous support of your Board of Directors and the employees who work with phenomenal dedication every day. Bottom line: we must continue providing a robust network so that every member behind every meter has every option to engage in the way they desire.
We need to do this while ensuring high quality, high reliability, and reasonably priced power. Engagement is key, and I encourage all members to reach out to me as we execute Our Cooperative Roadmap.