Rural Cooperatives Shift Toward Cleaner Power Generation Mix

Low gas prices, the federal production tax credit and state renewables mandates are leading to a cleaner power generation mix for rural cooperatives. Specifically, wind power, natural gas and related technology innovation are dominating growth of cooperatives’ energy generation. According to the American Wind Energy Association, electric cooperatives added more than 900 MW of new wind capacity in 2016. In order to create room for these new generation resources, coops shuttered or converted 700 MW of coal between 2014 and 2016 and are estimated to shutter or convert an additional 1,344 MW by 2028. Low gas prices are also driving a shift away from coal-fired generation which has typically dominated coops’ power mixes. Ultimately, there is a trend among all utilities in the U.S. power system, including cooperatives and investor-owned utilities, of fundamental resource transformation to cleaner power generation.

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