Strategy for serving power to Basin Electric members, long-term


The system that generates and delivers electricity across the United States is complex. Many different utilities, marketers, developers, and regulators have their fingers in the system, each with the common purpose of sending electricity to end-use consumers.

You are likely familiar with the Western and Eastern Interconnection, the two major electrical grids in North America. While load and generation grew quickly on each coast of the United States, as grid development moved toward the middle of the country, the Western and the Eastern grids didn’t work together quite right. As a way to describe that, some say one side said ‘tick’ and the other side said ‘tock.’

Basin Electric has generation and transmission facilities on both sides of the grid, and also has access to the DC ties which permit electricity to flow from one side of the interconnection to the other. These facilities and their access give the cooperative an incredible advantage in providing reliable, affordable electricity to its members, which are located on both sides of the interconnection as well.

Not only is the grid split into the Western and Eastern Interconnections, some of the system is also divided into regional transmission organizations (RTOs) like Southwest Power Pool (SPP) or the Midcontinent ISO (MISO). The cooperative’s membership has load in both the SPP and MISO regions, and as a result Basin Electric has power supply obligations in both regions.

Basin Electric is a transmission-owning member of SPP, an RTO that stretches from the Canadian border down to Texas.

Additionally, Basin Electric has been involved with MISO since 2005. MISO was started in 2001 and covers parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa in Basin Electric’s service area, as well as 11 other states and into Canada. MISO is divided into 10 local resource zones for compliance with resource adequacy, and Basin Electric’s members are located in two of them: Zone 1 and Zone 3.

Becky Kern, Basin Electric vice president of Resource Planning and Rates, says the cooperative’s strategy in MISO for the last couple years has been focused on market purchases. In fact, more than 75% of the energy Basin Electric serves to its members in MISO is through the market.

Kern says the long-term strategy, however, is to diversify with more dispatchable and renewable resources as a way to maintain reliable, affordable power for the membership. This strategy, to have about one-third of the cooperative’s MISO needs in market purchases, one-third in dispatchable resources, and one-third in renewables, is not a hard and fast equation. According to Kern, it will take a number of years to implement but several steps have already been taken to achieve this goal.

Read more about those steps in the Winter 2022 issue of Basin Today: How Basin Electric's new partnership in Wisconsin builds on a long-term strategy

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