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Against All The Odds, Electricity

An avalanche of proposed environmental regulations on coal-fired power plants makes it extremely hard and extremely expensive to run those plants that supply nearly all the electricity for Kentucky.

The cost of electricity is always an issue for many Kentuckians, especially in the tough economy of the past few years.

Increasing attention to renewable energy challenges electric utilities to find new ways of doing business.

And we want our electricity to always be on.

It will be.

How do I know?

As editor of a magazine published by Kentucky’s electric co-ops, I get to see and hear every day how the people who work at these businesses approach their jobs. The co-op utility network is made up of a mind-boggling array of moving parts. But specialists from linemen to accountants work together thinking all the time about keeping your lights on today, and 20 years from now.

A tricky balancing act
Beginning this month The Future of Electricity column will profile the three utility groups in a unique energy hot seat—the ones who generate and transmit our electricity.

Electric co-ops have an unusual business structure. You get your electricity from one of 24 user-owned electric distribution co-ops in the state. But those local co-ops buy their wholesale power from one of three places.

The 16 co-ops for the most part east of I-65 buy their power from East Kentucky Power in Winchester. East Kentucky is itself a co-op, owned by those 16 co-ops.

The five co-ops in the southwest buy their power from the Tennessee Valley Authority, which is actually a federal government corporation serving utilities in seven states.

The third power supplier in the state is Big Rivers Electric co-op based in Henderson. Big Rivers serves three distribution co-ops based in Brandenburg, Henderson, and Paducah.

This month’s Future of Electricity column focuses on Big Rivers, and how it balances our desires for low-cost electricity with expensive reliability, safety, and protection of the environment.
That task can seem daunting, complicated, almost impossible. Yet it gets done 24/7.

You don’t have to think much about electricity because these folks are thinking about it all the time.

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