One of the newest buzz phrases in the energy industry is the “shared energy economy.” In this economy, all the resources necessary for keeping the lights on, keeping our homes and businesses running, and keeping society humming are jointly managed for the benefit of all.
The cooperative business model was founded on this very principle more than 80 years ago, with communities coming together and bringing light where there was darkness.
The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), an independent nonprofit energy research, development, and deployment organization, has a fancy definition of this shared energy economy:
“Technical, business, regulatory, and policy conditions that allow customer-owned resources to supplement utility operations in providing value to consumers while also providing value to the asset owner.”
Today we have advanced technologies that are creating an energy web, linking centralized resources and member-owned resources, such as electric vehicles (EVs), solar panels, and home battery storage in new and exciting ways. The coming of a power market in the next two years will allow United Power — on your behalf — to manage a variety of electric inputs that will help lower bills and make better use of the electricity we buy.
Taking advantage of the shared energy economy is one of the many reasons we are working to find new, more forward-leaning power suppliers, as our current arrangement limits the flexibility we can provide our members and the choices that are available. We have outlined this future in Our Cooperative Roadmap that envisions a day in the not-to-distant future when we are no longer penalized for being efficient, having large scale batteries, or working with our members to serve their needs in a mutually beneficial manner.
There are more than 9,200 members with solar rooftops, 150 with batteries, and many thousands buying EVs in our service territory. Combining those with load management programs for water heating, air conditioning, and on-site generation will allow United Power to bring value and share the economic benefit of those investments.
These changes will help many of our industrial and commercial members meet their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals, while also achieving Colorado’s planned reduction in emissions. It is important to recognize how the economics are driving these changes for United Power first and foremost. We can get the dual benefit of meeting goals and lowering costs.
The shared energy economy has been a cornerstone of the cooperative business model, and this continued evolution fits well into United Power’s history as an energy leader on your behalf and recognizes the future opportunities for our communities.
As always, I welcome your comments and insights, as well opportunities to meet with our members anytime. Please feel free to reach out to me or any member of our executive team with questions or concerns.