One of PowerSouth’s strengths is a diversified long-term power supply strategy. We use a variety of fuels to provide power to our 20 distribution members, and renewables are in the mix. Technology is advancing at an amazing rate, and we are committed to expanding our renewable energy resources to provide cost-effective, reliable power to our distribution members.
In 2008, PowerSouth joined five other generation and transmission cooperatives to support the 150 megawatt Story Country Wind Energy Center. The Center, located in Story County, Iowa, went commercial in Fall 2008.
One hundred 1.5 megawatt turbines, more than 260 feet in height, line the Iowa landscape. The project is owned by NextEra Energy Resources. PowerSouth’s purchased power agreement is for 20 megawatts of the wind farm’s 150 megawatt output.
PowerSouth received approximately 45,000 renewable energy credits (RECs) in 2009 from the power purchased from the wind farm. An REC is a tradable, non-tangible energy commodity that represent proof that 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity was generated from an eligible renewable energy resource. PowerSouth books RECs for a 24-month cycle.
The Southeastern Power Administration (SEPA) is responsible for marketing electric power and energy generated at reservoirs operated by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
One of SEPA’s objectives is to market electric power and energy generated by the Federal reservoir projects. Preference in the sale of power is given to public bodies and cooperatives, therefore, PowerSouth gains 199 megawatts of capacity from SEPA.
Hydropower is considered by many to be the only means of storing large quantities of electrical energy for almost instant use. Our Gantt and Point A hydro dams are capable of generating 8 megawatts of electricity.
Water is held in large reservoirs behind the dams with hydroelectric power plants below. The dams create strong water flows which move turbine blades that turn the rotor of an electric generator. When the coils of wire on the rotor sweep past the generator’s stationary coil, electricity is produced.
Through a partnership with Waste Management, PowerSouth gained use of landfill gas, consisting mostly of methane, as an alternative fuel source for electric generation. Methane is created through the natural decomposition of waste at the Springhill Regional Landfill near Campbellton, Fla.
The methane gas is extracted and burned to generate 4.8 megawatts of green energy, which is then placed on PowerSouth’s transmission grid. As a result of the Waste Management venture, we recovered 57,000 RECs. We currently sell almost half of the RECs we earn via our Waste Management landfill gas generation to our distribution members. The balance of the landfill gas RECs are combined with those RECs received from our wind generation agreement and remain in our possession.
Since the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow in Alabama and northwest Florida, PowerSouth looks for renewable energy opportunities in windswept plains, sun-drenched deserts and elsewhere in the country. In fact, all of the cooperatives that form the National Renewables Cooperative Organization (NRCO) have those opportunities.
PowerSouth is one of the founding members of NRCO, a not-for-profit cooperative formed to promote and facilitate the development of our nation’s renewable energy resources for America’s electric cooperatives. NRCO’s members pool their resources and expertise to spread the risk of developing renewable resources for power generation. This benefit supports PowerSouth’s mission of providing competitively priced power.
As utilities nationwide face increasing capacity needs and stricter environmental standards, NRCO will assist cooperatives in meeting these challenges.
Visit NRCO’s website for additional information.