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Electric Co-ops Playing Key Role in EV Deployment

Interested in transitioning to an electric vehicle? Electric cooperatives are investing in EV programs to help you reach your goal. It’s another way they’re working for you.

Many co-ops have implemented educational outreach programs and instituted EV and home charger rebate programs. Some provide home installation services. Plus, tailored electric rates can be offered for off-peak EV charging.

Though public charging presents new challenges for managing the grid, it also provides opportunities. That’s why electric co-ops must be early partners in the evolving EV environment to ensure new public and fleet vehicle charging stations in co-op communities don’t jeopardize the delivery of the safe, affordable and reliable power on which you depend.

Look for the electric utility industry to be a major player in transforming economic sectors like transportation and agriculture as the need for more electricity grows. According to a National Academies of Science study, the transportation sector alone will require a 170% increase in electricity generation by 2050 — plus a three-fold expansion of the transmission grid. With electric vehicle use increasing, the successful buildout of robust EV charging infrastructure in rural America is critical.

As more and more EVs begin traveling highways and byways, expect more creative partnerships between electric co-ops, the federal government, and other stakeholders.

How the postage increase is affecting your electric co-op

Electric cooperatives serve some of the most remote and economically disadvantaged communities in the state. This comes with certain challenges. The latest: postal rate increases well above inflation.

The new rates — which took effect on Aug. 29 — will impact the bottom lines of electric co-ops, which use the U.S. Postal Service for critical functions like billing, distributing director election materials and meeting notices, and mailing other important communication to members. Some state laws require mailed notices for certain communication, and a lack of adequate internet service in many rural areas means moving billing and other outreach to online-only is not always a viable option.

The Postal Service increased rates for nonprofit marketing mail by an average of 7.8%. Until recently, the agency had been required by law to tie increases to inflation, which has been about 1.5% to 2% in recent years. But a new Postal Regulatory Commission ruling allowed the USPS to deploy a new pricing formula that is far more onerous to nonprofit groups, according to a report by the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers (ANM). Increases included 5.7% for first class letters, 10.4% for flats (including magazines and newsletters) and 8.6% for parcels.

It’s vital that communication remains affordable for millions of electric cooperative consumers, but the USPS appears to be targeting rural areas with unprecedented increases well beyond anything we’ve seen in the past.

Maintaining Cyber, Physical Security are High Co-op Priorities

Protecting the nation’s electric power grid and ensuring an affordable, reliable, and secure supply of electricity are top priorities for electric cooperatives like Southeastern Indiana REMC.

The North American power system is incredibly complicated. System owners and operators, who have the greatest expertise in responding to and mitigating potential threats and vulnerabilities, are working together across the industry and with government agencies to prepare for existing and potential threats to the electric grid’s reliability and security.

The electric sector uses a defense-in-depth strategy to protect critical assets. Through this approach, a variety of hazards to electric grid operations, including severe earth and space weather, cyber incidents, vandalism and other natural and manmade events can be addressed. The electric power sector continuously monitors the bulk electric system. If an event impacts consumers, this strategy, combined with experience from decades of lessons learned maintaining and supplying power to the country, has resulted in more efficient restoration of power.

Electric cooperatives work closely with government agencies on critical infrastructure protection matters, including sharing needed information about potential threats and vulnerabilities to the bulk electric system.

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