2021 CEO Report
Dear customers and owners of Cordova Electric Cooperative:
Each year comes with its own challenges and opportunities, but 2020 was in a class all its own. The pandemic touched nearly every aspect of CEC and our customers. In March of 2020 CEC was among the first organizations in the community to develop and implement a COVID-19 response plan with the strong support and encouragement of the CEC Board of Directors. This plan was successfully implemented to assure the safety of CEC employees and their extended families, customers, partners, and vendors. The Board of Directors implemented policies to waive late fees and support customers through the difficult year.
One of the highlights of 2020 was the full operation of CEC’s new Battery Energy Storage System (BESS). Last year I reported that we had set new records for hydro production in November and December of 2019. In 2020 we had the use of the system for the whole year and are pleased with the overall performance of this new technology resulting in tens of thousands of gallons of fuel savings as well as tens of thousands of dollars of reduced diesel plant maintenance. Just as importantly, the BESS provides the “shock absorber” to the CEC grid to allow larger scales of solar and wind to be added. When clouds shade a solar farm, or wind gusts fluctuate the amount of energy they produce, the BESS can make up the difference. We installed an electric boiler in our diesel plant to take advantage of the additional hydropower the BESS unlocked for our grid. This saved approximately 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel this year and will continue to do so. An in-depth recorded webinar video describing this project is available on the CESA.org website.
Another key accomplishment of 2020 was the replacement of the Power Creek inflatable rubber dam. Constant gravel and rock abrasion and floods in 2006 damaged the dam. The challenges of avalanche danger and water in the creek made replacement a very challenging job. This November, thanks to the cooperation between local contractors to share employees and equipment and lead the project with assistance from CEC, the dam was replaced. The Power Creek Hydroelectric Project has saved approximately 19,000,000 gallons of diesel fuel since starting service in 2002, approaching $40,000,000 in cost savings to CEC customers. As we look forward to a future that does not include fossil fuels for electric energy, Power Creek will continue to be the key in that transition as it produces 2/3 of our electricity every year and the stable grid anchor for other renewables.
As we look ahead to pursuing large scale solar and other replacements for fossil fuel in 2021, we continue to work with our strong and supportive partners at the US Department of Energy and National Laboratories, and partners closer to home including the City of Cordova, Native Village of Eyak, Cordova Telephone Cooperative, and Chugach Alaska and Eyak Corporations. One of these successes was a City-led effort with financial support from CEC, CTC, and the Native Village of Eyak to secure funding to upgrade Second Street from the intersection of Copper River Highway to D Street including replacement of aged and failing electrical lines that entire length.
As we review our energy rates and implement new advanced metering tools in 2021, we look forward to partnering more closely with our customers to provide better information about energy use and opportunities to take advantage of excess renewable energy when it is available. We appreciate your suggestions and feedback as customers and owners of the Cooperative through surveys, our Facebook page, or directly to your Board members or Staff.
We wish you a safe, happy, and successful 2021.
Clay Koplin, CEO