Where Does Your Electricity Come From?
Nolin RECC is one of 16 cooperatives that owns and governs the company that generates and transmits affordable, reliable and sustainable power to us. Our co-op receives energy from East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) and then distributes it to our members.
EKPC generates electricity from two coal-fueled plants: Spurlock Station located in Maysville and Cooper Station near Somerset. EKPC also generates power using nine combustion turbines (CTs) at Smith Station in the Trapp community of Clark County, along with three CTs at Bluegrass Station near LaGrange. The CTs operate on natural gas or, if needed, on fuel oil.
Nolin is committed to the use of renewable energy where it is feasible.
Our cooperative system has long been a state leader in renewables. In 2017, we built Cooperative Solar Farm One at EKPC headquarters in Winchester. It produces enough electricity to meet the power needs of 1,000 homes. With 32,000 solar panels, it is one of Kentucky’s largest solar projects. Learn more about Cooperative Solar below. In 2003, our system became the first in Kentucky to generate its own renewable power when we began operating plants fueled by gas from landfills. Today, EKPC has six landfill gas plants in Kentucky including one at the Pearl Hollow landfill in Hardin County. Learn more here.
Hydro power is also a major source of electricity. EKPC purchases 170 MW of hydropower from Laurel and Wolf Creek Dams and the federal Southeastern Power Administration (SEPA).
In 2012, our cooperative system integrated into PJM Interconnection, the world’s largest centrally dispatched grid. This gives us — and you —access to competitively priced, reliable and sustainable power. That’s a tremendous benefit especially in times when power supplies are tight like the polar vortex several winters ago.
Find more details about our energy portfolio here.
Important Notice to Our Members
For information on renewable energy installations, Cooperative Solar and net metering, please see our Renewable Energy and Net Metering page.
Understanding the Importance of Voluntary Curtailment
The following column was written by Nolin RECC President & CEO Greg Lee and was featured in the October 2023 Nolin news section of Kentucky Living Magazine.
In the days leading up to Christmas 2022, much of the country found itself in a significant polar vortex that had not been encountered in several years. Because of Winter Storm Elliott, many of us in Kentucky saw subzero temperatures for consecutive days with little relief. Numerous factors including the timing of the holiday season, rapid decline in temperatures and windchill, significantly higher than forecasted electric loads, and unanticipated lack of availability of natural gas greatly increased the challenges associated with the constant supply of electricity.
Some of you may recall Nolin sending out social media communications encouraging our members to take all reasonable energy conservation measures during this time. This was met with a mixed response, but I want to take time now to explain why we made that request, why we may need to do it again in the future, and hopefully help you understand why it should be important to all of us.
In short, the request we made to you last winter to conserve energy can be defined as a “voluntary curtailment.” This is an appeal that you help limit total system power requirements or “demand.” Some larger industrial operations can be subject to “mandatory curtailments” as a function of contractual terms.
You may remember that several parts of the country encountered “rolling blackouts” during Winter Storm Elliott, and that places like Texas and California also encountered this fate in other recent severe weather events. Simply put, this is when the power demand is greater than the supply. The rolling blackout is an action utilities can take in response to emergency circumstances to prevent system damage, brownout conditions – or worse yet – much larger and much longer blackout conditions. The rolling blackout is designed to cut power supply to certain segments of the system for short durations (about 1 hour) while others stay on. This pattern then “rolls” from one part of the system to another so no one is impacted for too long. Though this is very inconvenient for all parties involved, the goal is to keep everyone as comfortable as possible during extreme temperatures. Last December, we asked you to voluntarily conserve because there was some legitimate concern that parts of Kentucky may be within hours of facing rolling blackouts.
The good news is, from an electrical standpoint, Nolin RECC members sit in a very resilient position relative to the national grid. Starting locally, from your home to our substations, we have one of the most rugged and reliable distribution systems in the country. Our biggest challenge is controlling nuisance vegetation – which we are working hard to manage every day. East Kentucky Power Cooperative (Nolin’s power supplier) has a robust transmission system with diverse generation assets. They are consistent in providing high service availability time and prompt response to outage circumstances. EKPC is a member of PJM, a regional transmission organization, that coordinates the distribution of wholesale electricity from hundreds of generation assets across 13 states in the mid-Atlantic and Midwestern part of the country. By virtue of being a member of PJM, EKPC is able to tap into the extensive generation and transmission network PJM has to offer. This affords EKPC drastically increased reliability, resiliency, and economics, while the generation assets they own and operate here in Kentucky provide all of us a failsafe in the most challenging reliability and economic circumstances. Due to the collective performance of Nolin, EKPC, and PJM, Nolin members are exceptionally well positioned, even relative to some of our close neighbors, to maintain service in drastic weather events.
Though we are well positioned, we cannot rest on that sentiment as a guarantee. One reason I am sharing this now is because we typically see the highest demand on our system during the winter. So, when we ask you to conserve energy, we really mean it, and we really need your help. The amount of notice we can give will vary based on conditions outside of our control. We will communicate this request in every way we have available to us including local media, our social media channels and website, and text/email alerts directly to our members.
Though we cannot predict the likelihood, it is possible we will all have to endure short term inconveniences to avoid a much longer service disruption. We can wait to wash and dry our clothes and dishes. We can charge our EV or take a hot shower later. And we can all get by with the thermostat at 66 (winter) or 76 (summer) for a little while even if we prefer it at 72. When we ask you to curtail, please consider what actions you can take to help your neighbor until we can weather the storm.
More information about ways you can help us conserve can be found HERE.
What is demand and why does it matter?
Occasionally, conditions can exist that increase the likelihood of a power outage – WHEN a member uses electricity matters.
- One of the largest users of energy in a home is the heating/cooling system. So, when outside temperatures are very high or very low, more energy is needed to heat/cool your home.
- “Peak” demand is when the most power is being used on the electrical grid. It is directly driven by outdoor temperatures and is higher in periods of extreme temperatures. Peak demand can put stress on the electrical grid.
- Typical summer peak times: 4-8pm
- Typical winter peak times: 6-10 am (secondary 4-8pm)
- Though these are typical peak times and most likely when we would request your help in reducing demand, it is possible that we may request your help at other times as well.
members can help when demand is unusually high
- There are several simple ways you can help decrease the demand on our system during peak times. Find more ideas HERE.
- Raise (summer) / Lower (winter) the thermostat by a few degrees.Use appliances (electric water heater, dish washer, washing machine/dryer) during off-peak hours.Prepare meals that don’t require cooking or can be fixed in smaller appliances such as a crock pot or microwave.Turn on ceiling fans to circulate air and help rooms feel cooler (counterclockwise)/ warmer (clockwise).
- Keep blinds and curtains closed during the day (summer)/ open during the day (winter).
how will members know when their help is needed to reduce demand
When extreme temperatures are in the forecast, we encourage members to watch our social media channels, website and check local media outlets for updates. It is important that anyone who depends on electricity for necessary medical devices have a backup plan in place in the event of any outages.
If conditions exists that result in near peak system demand, Nolin will be alerted by our power supplier, East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC). Nolin will use the above listed communication channels to request that members conserve energy during specific times. We will also text and email any members that have this contact information associated with their account. Member cooperation during this time may help the system demand decrease sufficiently to avoid the next step.
If the requested voluntary energy conservation does not result in enough reduction of demand, Nolin will be alerted by EKPC of the need for mandatory rotating outages. Rotating planned outages are necessary to maintain the reliability of the grid and to avoid larger, unplanned blackouts that would otherwise occur as a result of insufficient generation supply to meet very high demand. Nolin will communicate about any planned outages in the same way as the voluntary request with members as soon as possible after we receive the alert.
If mandatory rotating outages have taken place, Nolin will be alerted by EKPC when demand has decreased sufficiently to be met by the available supply and outage protocol ceases. At that time, we will alert members.