Power, Energy and Water Reports

Reports from CoBank Knowledge Exchange focusing on the power, energy and water industries.

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Fluctuating Electricity Supply and Demand Requires Distribution Co-ops be Steady but Agile
August 2022

The electricity sector no longer lives on a one-way street: U.S. consumers are fundamentally reshaping the electric power industry by demanding clean energy and widely adopting grid-edge technologies.

Webinar on Demand: The Future of the Power Grid Is Here
June 2022

Increased customer needs and operating risks are pushing aging electric transmission and distribution systems past their limits, often with painful results for communities. In fact, the average American home endured more than eight hours without power in 2021, more than double the outage time five years ago.

Garage of the Future: Supporting America’s New Re-Fueling Station
March 2022

The shift toward electric transportation will take more than just a dealership sale. Our research and discussions with electric cooperatives last year revealed a need for cooperation amongst co-ops and, more broadly, collaboration along the entire supply chain.

From Underdogs to Leaders: Co-ops in Energy Transition
January 2022

With the recent passage of the U.S. landmark $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure spending package to shore up the country’s roads, bridges, pipes, ports and transmission grid, now is an opportune time to reflect on the state of our rural electric infrastructure.

Co-op EVolution — A New Era of Mobile Energy, Off-Grid Access to Electricity
June 2021

Given promising signs of a return to normal for the country and the prospect of even more motorists hitting the road this year, it felt like the right time to celebrate a new CoBank initiative dedicated to electric vehicles. 

Co-op EVolution — Bridging the Rural-Urban Divide on EV Adoption
June 2021

Given new commitments by car manufacturers, expanded policy incentives, and ambitious build-out of charging infrastructure, electric vehicles could make up 10% of all new car sales by 2025 – a five-fold increase from current levels.

(Re)Considering (De)Regulation and Resiliency
May 2021

A different market design probably would not have averted the crisis in Texas.  But there is a clear need to protect consumers from these price spikes. 

Achieving Biden’s Climate Moonshot Requires Heavy Lifting by Electric Power Industry
May 2021

President Biden's new greenhouse gas emissions target for the U.S. could be viewed as the current generation’s moonshot opportunity for addressing climate change.

The Power Sector’s Tough Lessons Learned This Winter
April 2021

The February 2021 winter storm and widespread power outages have raised new concerns about the future of grid resilience.

Highlights from PowerXchange: Impact of the Pandemic on Electric Industry Transitions
March 2021

One of the more thought provoking sessions I attended at this year’s NRECA PowerXchange conference focused on how the events of 2020 will likely accelerate transformation for the U.S. electricity industry. 

The Economics of DER and the Rise of the U.S. Prosumer
February 2021

Over the past decade, retail electricity prices have continued to rise despite declining costs associated with generating electricity.

Fuel-switched — Persistent Low Natural Gas Prices Shut the Door on Coal Recovery for 2021 and Beyond
December 2020

With fuel competition unlikely to abate, there is little opportunity for a revival in the U.S. coal patch.

Addition by Subtraction: Recent Trends Reinforce Longer-Term Shift to Clean Energy
October 2020

Many consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for the U.S. power industry have been extreme – from demand destruction to more intense supply-side competition.

The Dangers of Kicking the Can Down an Endless Road
September 2020

The accumulated effects of deferred maintenance may pose a future reliability risk should staffing shortages persist.

No More Carefree Summer Days for Generators — Electricity Demand Weakness to Resurface With Mild Fall Weather
September 2020

Summer-time air conditioning demand masked underlying electricity demand weakness associated with COVID-19. As temperatures begin to moderate, loads will once again soften.

Power Sector Demand Destruction Forces Hard Choices
July 2020

While the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on the power sector remain unclear, belt tightening is a must and the industry has an opportunity now to adapt.

From the Ground Up: The Changing Energy Demands of Agricultural Irrigation
January 2020

Agricultural irrigation accounts for a significant share of the industrial electrical load served by U.S. utilities, especially in rural & semi-rural areas of Western & Central states.

Huge Battery Project Follows in Co‑ops’ Footsteps
November 2019

The world’s largest battery energy storage development project has received the green light from New York’s Public Service Commission. The project reaffirms what electric cooperatives in remote areas have known for years.

Emission Fights Cloud Electric Vehicle Growth
November 2019

As the U.S. market for electric vehicles has grown in recent years, many electric utilities around the country have welcomed the resulting incremental demand for power. But the uncertainty over future U.S. national fuel economy standards isn’t helping the segment’s growth.

US Authorities Seek Streamlined Natural Gas Pipeline Development
October 2019

The EPA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking indicating that the agency seeks much greater authority in the infrastructure permitting processes regulated under the Clean Water Act. Under the EPA’s proposed rule, states and tribes could only prevent infrastructure construction in matters concerning water quality, ending some of their other long-held permitting authorities.

Electric Vehicle-to-Grid Integration: From Concept to Reality
June 2019

While vehicle-to-grid (V2G) integration remains more concept than reality in the U.S., it will likely afford economic value to cost-conscious utilities and their ratepayers in the long term.

Nevada Votes NO on Energy Choice
November 2018

On November 6, 2018, Nevada voters rejected a proposition that would have fully liberalized the state’s electricity market. 

Impact of the Energy Choice Initiative on Nevada Electric Co-ops
November 2018

Nevada’s Energy Choice Initiative that goes to vote in November poses many risks to electric coops. It could result in billions of dollars in stranded costs from the divestiture of NV Energy’s power supply assets.

Broadband Partnerships: A Key to High-Speed Success for Rural Electric Co-ops
September 2018

Broadband communications is coming to rural America, but the pace of progress remains slow. There is good news in several areas. Rural electric cooperatives are entering the broadband space in increasing numbers. They are finding that their existing distribution networks can mean efficient deployment of broadband for their members.

Load Defection Among Agricultural Producers
June 2018

Adoption of distributed solar among ag producers remains low, largely driven by incentives and tax appetite, but will accelerate when the levelized cost of energy for on-farm solar converges with retail electricity rates, which will likely occur by 2025 in most states.

Positively Charged: The Emergence of Battery Energy Storage Among Electric Distribution Co-ops
March 2018

Battery energy storage systems are gaining momentum beyond traditional markets in Hawaii, Alaska, California and the Northeast. Growth is dominated by lithiumion (Li-ion) battery technology, spurred by increasing demand for electric vehicles and stationary uses. 

EVs and EDs: Rural Electric Coops to Benefit from Late Adoption of Electric Vehicles
December 2017

The early market for plug-in electric vehicles has been characterized by modest but steadily increasing sales, high vehicle reliability and customer satisfaction, and a rapid evolution of both vehicle and charging technologies.

When Rural Water Systems Combine
October 2017

As water utilities wrestle with increasing regulatory compliance and costly infrastructure needs, many are considering whether consolidation, also referred to as regionalization or partnering, could help them meet their challenges. Proponents say consolidation can help rural water systems leverage economies of scale and available expertise to make better use of resources and opportunities. But not everyone agrees on the rationale or approach to consolidation.

Making the Move into Broadband
September 2017

More and more rural electric cooperatives are learning that their existing distribution networks can lend themselves to highly efficient deployment of broadband for their member-owners. Based on the distances that define rural America, one of the surest ways to effectively build a broadband network is to use an existing electric co-op infrastructure.

Technology on Tap: Advanced Technology Streamlines Rural Water Systems' Operations
June 2017

Across the U.S., a growing number of rural water and wastewater systems are taking advantage of technological innovations to increase efficiencies, save money, reduce water waste and comply with environmental regulations.

Developing Renewable Energy PPAs: Recommendations from the Experts
February 2017

As the cost of renewable energy continues to decline and it becomes more competitive with other power sources, electric cooperatives are turning increasingly to low-cost renewable energy to help meet their members’ power requirements. In lieu of building and owning these generation assets themselves, many are executing long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) at contractually specified prices for renewable energy.

Rural Water Industry Prepares for a Generational Shift
February 2017

Some analysts have estimated that 50 percent of the rural water industry’s workforce will retire in the next few years. In its 2016 State of the Water Industry report, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) listed “aging workforce/anticipated retirements” as No. 13 of 28 top challenges.