CEO Message – September 2022

Reassuring members on the reliability and resilience of our power supply

Brandon Wittman headshotI'm always intrigued by what is on our member’s minds. The question I’ve been getting a lot over that last couple of weeks regards power supply and reliability. To put it another way, folks are concerned about a potential energy crisis, including the resilience of our grid and corresponding power supply. (83594000)

The structure we have in place for power supply is based on the Cooperative Business Model. First, our actual wholesale power supply transaction takes place at Central Montana Electric Power Cooperative (Central). Central is our G&T or Generation and Transmission Cooperative which holds the contracts for our 2 main sources of power. One of YVEC’s Board Members sits on the Board of Central and represents our members. Additionally, I am part of the member manager’s group, which makes recommendations to the Central Board. Those sources are the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) and Basin Electric Power Cooperative. WAPA provides hydropower and accounts for 15% of our supply and Basin has an extremely diverse portfolio of generation and provides YVEC with the remaining 85% of our power needs.

Basin recently had a panel discussion on the Making, Moving and Marketing of Power. Included in those discussions were the Senior Vice President of Operations for Basin, Troy Tweeten and the Director of Asset Management and Commodity Strategy, Valerie Weigel. The discussion began with what services are included in Basin’s rates. Instead of just energy, purchasing power from Basin includes other components such as capacity, ownership equity, member governance and accountability, which means members like YVEC own Basin and give them financial strength.

Basin’s soundness on the power supply side of their business comes from a very diverse portfolio of resources. Basin Electric’s generation portfolio includes coal, natural gas, oil, diesel, hydropower, wind, recovered waste heat and solar. According to Valerie Weigel, “Having this diversity ensures reliability to our members through the geographic dispersion that we have across the states in our service territory, unlike most competitors who likely only have a single source of generation just in a single area.” The sheer size of Basin’s portfolio is impressive. They have a total generation capability of 7,262.4 Megawatts. Basin is also a member of the Southern Power Pool (SPP) and can buy, trade, and sell power inside of that pool, which increases their flexibility to serve members especially in difficult times like weather events or other unforeseen scenarios. They also work very closely with WAPA, which is YVEC’s other source of power, to ensure seamless delivery.

While many have heard discussions of a looming energy crisis or the possibility of rolling blackouts, YVEC is in a solid position. We have ample power supply and an excellent structure in place for wholesale power delivery. Sure, we have outages occasionally, but we are backed by the tremendous reliability of entities like Central Montana, WAPA and Basin Electric. We have a seat at the table for each of those suppliers and they function with our members in mind. The philosophy of reliable, affordable power is the focus of our entire team.

Brandon J. Wittman
Chief Executive Officer