Membership using more power than ever before

Cold temperatures.
Strong winds.
Record snow fall.

That’s what Basin Electric’s service area was seeing in mid-December. And that’s part of what brought a new winter billing peak and a new all-time billing peak for the cooperative.

Sharon Lipetzky, revenue analyst, confirmed the new peak surpassed the previous billing peak by more than 280 megawatts.

The previous all-time billing peak, set in January 2008, was 2,140 megawatts. The new peak is now 2,421 megawatts.

For example, Basin Electric Class A member Capital Electric Cooperative’s electricity demand purchases from Basin Electric from January 2008 to December 2008 increased 22 percent. Another Class A member, East River Electric Power Cooperative, had increased demand purchases from Basin Electric of more than 24 percent in the same time period.

A portion of Basin Electric’s load lies in the energy industry, which hasn’t been growing as quickly as it had been just months ago.

Dave Raatz, manager of marketing and power supply planning, said Basin Electric didn’t have any problems meeting the resource obligations of the membership during the peak, but he added, “As we were planning for this winter season operation we didn’t anticipate the membership would peak as high as it did. A number of forecasted ethanol plants have been delayed, coal bed methane loads are running a little lower than forecasted, and we anticipated some of the member co-op load growth around a few of the bigger towns in our service territory would come in lower than forecasted,” Raatz said. “The new winter peak, however, was very close to the official board and membership approved Load Forecast, within five megawatts in total.

“We are assuming a significant amount of this unanticipated load growth is associated with new electric heat installations, and grain drying activities that continued into December as a result of a late crop harvest in many parts of the Basin Electric member service area,” he said.

Raatz said marketing is continuing to look into and monitor why the membership ended up with the peak that it did.

Basin Electric’s base-load, peaking and transmission resources have worked well in the cold weather. Raatz added that during the peak Basin Electric’s members kept the cooperative informed of how loads were performing on a near real-time basis. “We also appreciate the efforts of The Coteau Properties Company for curtailing its electrical usage by shutting down dragline operations when Basin Electric requested it.”

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