BULLHEAD CITY, AZ. – Record setting temperatures in the West are straining the energy supply in California according to the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC), and although that could have an impact on Arizona, MEC CEO Tyler Carlson wants residential members of the cooperative to know that MEC has planned for this and there is no reason to curtail at this moment.
“We’re trying to provide our members with situational awareness,” said Carlson. “If conditions worsen, we may come back and ask you to reduce load.”
Wednesday evening, WECC issued an EEA-1 alert condition for 14 western states. Record-breaking heat temperatures, expected to peak on Sunday, September 4, have caused for an increase in power usage across the country. California, who has worked toward shutting down coal-fired and natural gas power plants in favor of more renewable energy sources, now finds that they are not producing enough energy to supply their customers and as a result began purchasing power in other markets including the Western Interconnection that includes Arizona.
California’s shortage has resulted in the cost of purchasing power to skyrocket, increasing roughly 10 times what it was just a week ago per megawatt hour. If CA’s issues start negatively affecting other states, including Arizona and MEC, this could be a double whammy effect on power availability and costs. The cost is expected to normalize beginning Tuesday, Sept. 6.
MEC, who works hard to ensure that they always have the energy needed to serve their members, receives a supply of wholesale purchased power from many sources. Some is created here locally, some throughout the state, while other purchases are from other states and often routed through California. During the summer months, MEC purchases approximately 30 megawatt hours on the market per day.
Additionally, MEC has installed a pair of solar arrays that combined produce 15.3-Megawatts of power. To help increase reliability in times of potential shortages or high costs, MEC is in the process of installing a large battery system coupled with solar. This was originally scheduled for the summer of 2022, but supply chain problems, among other things, have pushed the project into 2023.
“Days like this where the above average temperatures in California and the Pacific Northwest strain the electrical system, are a clear indication as to why local generation is so important for MEC to provide cost effective power supply to our members,” said MEC COO Jonathan Martell.
Ironically, had MEC’s battery project not been delayed, MEC could have used the project to secure their power supply and avoid being exposed to the volatile wholesale power supply market.
MEC is also currently planning a 15-Megawatt battery project in a partnership with Arizona Electric Power Cooperative (AEPCO), that should be up and running by summer of 2023, and is also planning, again with AEPCO, a secondary flexible generation turbine for power generation that they hope to have up by the summer of 2025.
Founded in 1946, Mohave Electric Cooperative is a not-for-profit utility providing reliable, cost-effective power to 36,700 members, 43,500 meters, with more than 1,555 miles of line spanning areas from Bullhead City to Topock on the west, Hualapai to Burro Creek to the south, and Nelson to the east. MEC is an equal opportunity provider and employer.