Message from the CEO
Resiliency of the grid is one of the most popular concepts being talked about in the electric industry today. This concept recently made headlines in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which caused extraordinary damage to Puerto Rico’s electric grid, resulting in the longest sustained outage in U.S. history. Lack of resiliency became the go-to phrase to describe Puerto Rico’s grid. Here in Iowa, what does grid resiliency mean for you?
Resiliency is many things—it’s reliability in your electric service, it’s our ability to efficiently restore your power, it’s being able to meet the demands of new technology, and it’s how we serve you with various generation sources without skipping a beat. Ultimately, resiliency is how we deliver on our promise to improve quality of life for our members.
When it comes to having a resilient electric grid, it begins with a system that is designed and built to withstand high winds, powerful storms, cybersecurity threats, and other disruptions that could result in outages. A resilient grid is also flexible and adaptable by allowing different types of generation—such as wind, solar, coal, and hydro—to seamlessly work together to provide you with safe and reliable power. The way our systems react to advancements in technology—from demand response investments to serving the needs of electric vehicles—factors into the resiliency of our grid.
Resiliency is a 24/7, 365-days-a-year task. Whether it’s the power lines, substations, or generation facilities on our grid, it takes proactive maintenance and investment to keep them running smoothly. With thousands of consumers without power for months, the lack of resiliency in Puerto Rico’s power grid wasn’t solely caused by hurricane damage; it was the result of years of neglect in taking care of their system and preparing for a worst-case scenario.
In a similar way to how we maintain our vehicles with regular oil changes, inspections, and tire rotations, a grid must also be properly maintained. Throughout the year, we regularly conduct pole and line inspections. Our goal is to find a problem before it becomes one. For example, if we find a weak pole that has damage from termites, we replace that pole. Doing so ensures that pole is as strong—or as resilient—as it can be.
Living in Iowa, we know that significant power outages can occur, especially as we enter spring and summer storm season. Whether we’re at the mercy of tornadoes or river flooding, we have confidence in the resiliency of our system to recover from the situation with as little disruption as possible.
In the dictionary, resilience is defined as “the ability to bounce back, recover quickly, and go back into shape or position after being stretched.” When it comes to providing our member-owners with resilient service, this is what we work toward—day in and day out!