Utilities Partner to Keep Your Lights On

Feb 12, 2021 | Industry

We have all come to expect the highest level of reliability when it comes to flipping on a light switch, morning, noon or night. The electric grid that provides us all with that reliable source of power is a complex system of interconnected power lines and substations owned by several electric cooperatives and utilities in the region.  

Great River Energy, wholesale power supplier to Meeker Cooperative, works closely with neighboring utilities to ensure the grid remains reliable for homes, businesses and farms. One way they collaborate with other utilities is through an organization called CapX2020.

CapX2020 is a partnership of 10 transmission-owning utilities formed in 2004 to upgrade and expand the Upper Midwest’s electric grid to ensure affordable, reliable electric service and create new pathways for renewable energy. That partnership worked on a $2 billion grid expansion consisting of 800 miles of new transmission and completed the first portfolio of projects in 2017. Since then, Great River Energy and CapX2020 have focused on the future. The utilities are now analyzing the role the grid will play in a transition toward more renewable energy.

“We’re working with neighboring utilities to address the challenges we face as more renewables come online and as more traditional generation sources, like coal-fired power plants, are retired. The transmission grid will need to transform to accommodate this transition. Because we rely so heavily on each other to serve our members, we work together to find solutions,” said Matt Ellis, co-executive director of CapX2020 and Great River Energy’s regional transmission development and policy program manager.

CapX2020 representatives have been busy recently, educating policymakers and other stakeholders about how the changing resource mix — including a number of new, weather-dependent energy resources — affects how the grid works and what will need to happen to continue providing reliable electric service in the Upper Midwest. To learn what they’re saying, view the CapX2050 Transmission Vision Report at capx2020.com.

Great River Energy is a co-founder of the CapX2020 organization and continues to play a leadership role. The CapX2020 utilities are Central Municipal Power Services, Dairyland Power Cooperative, Great River Energy, Minnesota Power, Missouri River Energy Services, Otter Tail Power Company, Rochester Public Utilities, Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, WPPI Energy and Xcel Energy.  Great River Energy, Meeker Cooperative and our neighboring utilities will continue to work together to make sure the lights come on — no matter what.