Current hot topics for the electric utility industry were presented to local and statewide stakeholders at Carroll Electric Membership Cooperative’s (EMC) annual Power Breakfast held Thursday, Dec. 15, at its Carrollton headquarters.
Carroll EMC’s President and CEO, Tim Martin, addressed a crowd of more than 60 electric co-op representatives, elected officials, school administrators, chamber professionals and other community leaders with industry insights on the co-op’s power mix and solar, electric vehicle and broadband initiatives.
In just more than a decade, the cooperative’s generation fuel mix has transitioned from majority coal to majority natural gas with nuclear and solar projects providing an increasing mix of cleaner, carbon-free energy. Carroll EMC’s wholesale power purchase portfolio for the coming year is projected to be 61% natural gas, 25% nuclear, 7% renewables, 5% coal and 2% hydro. Unfortunately, the increased demand for natural gas globally may lead to potential increases in generation costs.
“When you hear about natural gas prices rising, that’s going to impact electric utilities across the country,” said Martin. “As we transition from coal to renewables, natural gas is an important component in that. It’s going to be needed long into the future, and we’re doing everything we can to control costs for our Members.”
Martin dove deeper into the topic of renewables discussing the cooperative’s participation in solar projects, operated by Green Power EMC, across the state and the increased Member interest in rooftop solar. Currently, a total of 159 residential and commercial accounts are enrolled in the net metering program.
“We’re pro-solar because we’re pro-Member,” said Martin. “What our Members want, that’s what we want. If they want solar, we want to help them get that, but we want to make sure they know all of the facts as they make their decision.”
“It’s the same with electric vehicles,” continued Martin. “We know some of our Members want electric vehicles, and we’re trying to learn everything we can about them, so we can support those Members.”
His closing remarks provided an update on Carroll EMC’s partnership with broadband provider, SyncGlobal Telecom, and its residential brand, Crossbeam. As of early December, more than 600 miles of mainline fiber had been constructed with more than 150 customers connected in the first phase of deployment which is expected to be completed the end of next year. The partners are hoping for additional funding from the Capital Projects Fund Grant Program of Georgia for phase two of the project.
“This will make a huge difference,” said Martin. “Regardless of whether we get the grant or not, we’re going to support all our counties, but it speeds things up when we can get grant money. It helps us to do it faster.”