Members want — and need — affordable electricity

Each day, member-consumers across three states receive power supplied by Associated. Who are these members? Surveys conducted by Associated and member distribution cooperatives show most members are over the age of 45 and have been a cooperative member for more than 10 years. Most members — more than 50% — are categorized as middle income. As a result, members need, and expect, affordable power to ensure their homes, farms and businesses thrive.

Diverse generation helps deliver affordable power

How does Associated generate power to serve member-consumers across three states affordably? In a word: balance. Associated’s commitment to reliable, responsible and affordable power requires options for generating electricity. Associated continues its time-tested strategy of maintaining a diverse and flexible portfolio of generation resources that includes coal, natural gas, wind and hydropower.

Options for generating power lead to lower costs

Associated’s goal is to match the needs of local distribution cooperative member-consumers to the most affordable generation resource.

Associated invests in coal power plants that run around-the-clock to make them more efficient. Along with natural gas plants, they are an important part of a balanced, diverse generation mix that enables the cooperative to run the units that are less expensive at the time electricity is needed.

While coal is traditionally a less costly fuel to make electricity than many other sources, low natural gas prices in 2019 and 2020 have, at times, made Associated’s natural gas generating units less expensive to run than coal units. During those times, more of members’ energy is coming from natural gas. The ability to choose among different ways to generate power — like coal or natural gas — is a tremendous advantage that benefits member-consumers with lower costs.

Making the most of electric generation resources

Many hours, Associated has generation available above its member-consumer needs. When utilities outside of the Associated system need power, they can buy the cooperative’s excess generation. The revenue from these power sales helps keep member costs lower than they otherwise would be.

“The balance and flexibility of our diverse generation fleet allows us, at times, to have significant volumes of excess generation we can sell to nonmembers, which reduces our overall costs,” said Associated’s Michael Denning, manager, energy marketing. “That’s good for Associated and its members.”

The bottom line: Balance benefits members

A balance of generating options used to produce electricity allows Associated to do what is necessary to control costs on behalf of member-consumers. Whether it is using the lowest-cost electricity produced by Associated’s power plants or selling extra power off-system to bring in revenue that relieves rate pressure for members, providing affordable power is a top priority.

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