2019 CEO Report
Dear customers and owners of Cordova Electric Cooperative:
2019 was a year filled with all the opportunities, challenges, and surprises that we have come to expect in the electric utility industry. New technologies, rising customer expectations, employee and Board skills and performance development, and an aggressive project workload have kept CEC very busy. A few of the big moves included a shift away from the Crater Lake project toward solar and other opportunities. Another big piece of 2019 work that is performing high above our expectations is the Battery Energy Storage project. We also completed the second of our three-year Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium project with the Department of Energy and National Laboratories. The year ended on a high note with record hydro production for the months of November and December and another Capital Credits distribution to the members.
Solar energy keeps becoming more and more attractive as an alternative. The higher efficiency panels, lower cost, and refinements in how and where to install them are all improving the cost of energy they produce. In Cordova, they would work well with our run of river hydro because the clear, cold weather that comes with sun in March and April, the peak solar months, is when our hydro’s produce the least. We have started a detailed evaluation of solar that will be completed in mid-2020.
The Battery Energy Storage Project is nearly 100% complete now. After the container arrived in May of 2019 it was installed by local machinists’, contractors, and CEC crew in record time. It was in operation by July, was integrated into the CEC grid by October, and fully automated by November. This is one of the reasons we had a record high November hydro production of 95% and record high December hydro production of 84%. We anticipate an increase of as much as 5% more hydro of our overall mix each year. The Department of Energy and our National Lab Partners, along with ABB and SAFT as the manufacturers and project team, have helped us in this process. All are impressed with the results, which included $10,000 of diesel savings on two days of the Thanksgiving Holiday alone.
Our grid modernization project resulted in a cybersecurity plan that we are now implementing to keep the CEC grid secure. Our whole grid has now been modelled in the national laboratories, and they can test new technologies on the model before we put them in place on our grid in Cordova. This helps us develop more cost-effective solutions that will perform better over their life.
Finally, a strong financial and operational performance this year allowed the Board to pay capital credits to the membership again, returning the investment in our system to both long-time and current members.
The coming year of 2020 will prove to be just as exciting. We have budgeted and selected projects to improve our customer service and choices. It will be easier for members to add and select solar if it proves to be cost-effective or wanted by the customers. We will have new technology in our meters to allow more flexible rates, and options for customers to share power back to the grid. New Electric Vehicles and Home Heating systems that extract heat from the air and water will be showcased in our April “Electrify Alaska!” conference. We will also be hosting the Isolated Power System Connect conference in July for international energy experts. These two conferences of 100 attendees or more help bring new technologies and discussions to Cordova, and help our local businesses with the additional food, lodging, and purchasing that they bring to the community.
Special Thanks to the Board of Directors and Employees of Cordova Electric for working to provide quality service and performance to CEC’s customers this year.
Clay Koplin, CEO