Responding to the Needs of the Grid // CEO Column September 2023

Daniel Carlisle // President/CEO & General Counsel

Our homes are outfitted with more devices that require electricity than ever before as life has become increasingly dependent on them to function. As this demand for electricity rises, Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative must continue providing the same affordable, round-the-clock service to its members—regardless of market conditions, or in Minnesota’s case: weather conditions.

Demand for electricity regularly fluctuates as people move throughout their homes and businesses on a normal day-to-day basis. But on extreme weather days when everyone is either trying to keep cool or stay warm, the electric grid experiences periods of high stress while attempting to meet members’ comfort needs.

These times are when Great River Energy (GRE), Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative’s wholesale power provider, deploys its demand response/load control strategy to relieve the electric system of this strain. This ability to respond to the needs of the electric system is made possible by members like you.   

Residents and businesses have the option to sign up for load control programs through Todd-Wadena that allow GRE to “control” their cooling or electric heating unit, water heater, electric vehicles, or commercial/industrial/agricultural accounts for a period of hours on high demand days in exchange for a reduced electric rate.

When the time comes for these appliances to be used for load control—typically on hot summer days or during a polar vortex when energy prices increase—GRE flips a switch to alleviate demand. This strategy not only reduces sometimes hundreds of megawatts of electricity demand, but it also helps the cooperative avoid making expensive purchases from the energy market, ultimately saving members money. These load control programs also alleviate the need to build more generating facilities.  

Great River Energy, in partnership with its member-owner cooperatives, has the largest demand response program for a utility of its size in the country according to data collected by the Energy Information Administration. This means its system operators are able to dispatch up to 370,000-plus appliances enrolled in load control programs to manage reliability. 

It takes a collective effort from Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative and its membership to maintain a healthy, reliable electric grid. If you are interested in signing up for a load control program or hearing more about your options to enroll in one for a reduced electric rate, contact us for more information.

Daniel Carlisle
President/CEO & General Counsel