CEO Message — September 2021

System Integrity Holds True with Reliable Power Supply

Brandon Wittman headshot

Wow! What at summer. In addition to experiencing the most rapid growth Yellowstone Valley Electric Cooperative (YVEC) has ever seen, the heat and drought have been burdensome to say the least. Coupling growth and record heat, we have set some impressive sales and consumption records. For the most part, our system has performed admirably. Especially when you consider that the peak demands we achieved in June, July and August were well beyond what we were projected to reach according to the 2021 Load Forecast. More simply stated, YVEC's system hit a peak demand that wasn't expected to occur until the year 2030! This really brings into perspective the importance of keeping our work plans and construction projects up to date. We must not only keep up with installing a record number of new services, but it is also imperative that we stay ahead of this growth. System integrity, power quality, and system capacity are integral to making sure our plant is capable of withstanding severe temperatures, which creates higher than normal usage, with room to spare. We've focused on making sure our substations and main feeder lines are of ample size and capacity to take the growth and record heat in stride.

Power Supply is one area that many folks may not consider but is equally important, especially in times of extreme weather. YVEC is very fortunate to have an abundance of reliable power. Our main power supplier is Basin Electric Power Cooperative. They supply about 85% of our needs while The Western Area Power Administration's hydroelectric facilities provide approximately 15%. Any additional needs above our normal consumption are provided by Basin and they are well equipped to handle our constantly increasing appetite for power. The power portfolio at Basin consists of wind, natural gas, nuclear, solar, hydro, coal, and recovered energy. Basin has invested heavily in diversifying their power supply in recent years. Wind makes up about 1,800 MW of their generation. That number was only 900 MW just 5 years ago. Basin also has 128 MW of solar power in South Dakota and 2 75 MW solar projects in Montana. Additionally, they have added 460 MW of simple cycle gas generation and 300 MW of combined cycle gas generation, all in the last eight years. This also combines with the 2,500 MW of coal generation they still own and operate.

In times of extreme weather conditions, it's comforting to know that Basin will be able to meet our needs. They have built a secure power supply system which is diverse, stable, and innovative. This results in low-cost environmentally responsible electricity for members like YVEC. Working together, YVEC and Basin will continue to ensure that our power supply is both reliable and affordable no matter what mother nature throws at us.

Brandon J. Wittman
CEO / General Manager