Buckeye Power, Inc. (BPI) is Ohio’s generation and transmission cooperative, providing power to the 24 Ohio-based electric cooperatives and Michigan-based Midwest Energy & Communications.
Formed in 1959, Buckeye Power is focused on providing reliable, affordable electricity to member co-ops, who then distribute it to nearly 400,000 homes and businesses in the state of Ohio.
Buckeye Power owns a diverse portfolio of base load and peaking facilities, outfitted with best-in-class environmental controls. BPI is also committed to researching and investing in economically sustainable sources of renewable power.
Additionally, Buckeye Power provides engineering services to member cooperatives and assists them with load management, marketing and economic development.
Owned and governed by the cooperatives it serves, Buckeye Power is dedicated to providing its member cooperatives with affordable and responsibly-produced power.
Buckeye Power Advocacy Positions
Buckeye Power is committed to providing a mix of generation resources that balance affordability, reliability, and environmental responsibility. Included in that mix is coal, natural gas, solar, hydropower, biomass, and other small-scale renewable energy generation.
Buckeye Power intends to add renewable energy generation at a pace that matches member needs but that does not increase costs of wholesale power. Buckeye Power is opposed to any state of federal mandates requiring a certain amount of renewable energy.
Buckeye Power cannot commit to a carbon reduction goal until there is a technological path that allows us to understand when and to what cost those goals are achievable.
From 2005 to 2019, the US electric power sector reduced CO2 emissions 33%, and is still the only industry that has achieved significant carbon reduction in the last five years.
Buckeye Power plans to operate its coal plants until it is in the best interests of its members to change.
Buckeye Power will advocate for policies that support the need for baseload generation that is clean and reliable as well as technically feasible, as it believes that coal generation will be part of the US power fuel mix for quite some time.
Buckeye Power has increased its efforts to reduce future stranded costs so that it can provide the company greater flexibility with meeting member future wholesale power needs.
Lowering US carbon emissions will depend, to a large extent, on increasing electrification of transportation, home heating, and industrial processes. All require an even more reliable and resilient electric power system.
Coal plant closures should not be forced upon every company and every state as we transition from coal use. Certain plants are better suited environmentally and economically to operate longer than others.
Renewable resources, particularly wind and solar, are not evenly available across the country. Areas with greater renewable resources should lead in adoption, while areas with lesser resources should transition more slowly.
Reliable, affordable, environmentally responsible electric power is essential to Ohio
It’s also essential to our nation’s economic well-being. Whether powering business and industry directly, or attracting quality workers to an affordable locale, electric power and economic prosperity are inescapably linked.
No single power generation technology appears ready or able to meet all our power needs, as each form has inherent benefits and consequences. Instead, we will need an integrated mix of power generation technologies, each bringing their own relative strengths and weaknesses.
Ohio’s 24-member, non-profit electric cooperative network encouraged conservation long before the state mandated dialogue that originated at the onset of the electric deregulation discussion. Conservation through energy efficiency, smart energy choices, and demand-side management has been the foundation of stable electric rates enjoyed by members of Ohio’s electric cooperatives. Therefore, any discussion of power generation begins with an acknowledgement that conservation remains the first, best, fastest, and cheapest way to address the seemingly insatiable appetite for power.
Reliable power is an expectation that seldom receives much notice, until events in other parts of the United States exposed the fragility of the electric grid. Both California (2020) and Texas (2021) suffered blackouts that affected thousands of customers because low energy prices were favored over reliability. Contingencies did not exist for severe weather events or a shortage of generation capacity. The events in Texas and California subjected customers to excessive outages and blackouts because of poor planning and policies that disproportionately incentivized the proliferation of intermittent generation resources. Ohio and the Midwest region should not compromise on the reliability of power.
Some suggest that renewable power can meet the nation’s power needs for decades to come. The significant challenges of integrating large quantities of intermittent renewable power to the regional transmission grid without adequate baseload generation cannot be underestimated. Until sufficient technology is developed to support intermittent generation, baseload fossil fuel is needed to meet the 24 x 7 x 365 day need for electricity.
There is disagreement between environmental advocates and those responsible for monitoring our power grids regarding the extent to which renewable energy can play a role in meeting future electricity demand. The answer becomes important when calculating the need for and timing of additional power generation facilities.
Although arguments can be made that government policy will drive investment in technologies like advanced solar power generation, battery storage, and distributed generation, it seems unlikely that our economy can continue to prosper in an environment fraught with the looming threat of frequent power outages and volatile market prices.
Whatever strategies and technologies are employed to meet future power requirements, consumers are likely to demand three primary components — reliability, affordability, and environmental responsibility. Because no single power generation system is fully capable of meeting all three criteria to everyone’s satisfaction, the discussion becomes one of balance and priorities.
For most ratepayers, the desire for reliable, always-on electricity almost always eclipses concerns about cost or environmental protections. Public and policymaker pressures increasingly attempt to change consumer minds about the issue.
Affordable power defies easy description; however, to tell our story requires some history and a look at actions taken by the Buckeye Power board and management to address the balance of affordability, reliability, and environmental responsibility.
Buckeye Power installed most of its coal capacity in the 1970s, during the government-induced Fuel Use Act of 1978, which prohibited the use of natural gas for power generation. Buckeye Power has since added natural gas peaking power plants and modest renewable energy resources to its generation mix, while also investing in proven technologies to reduce emissions from its coal plant. Capacity additions, along with environmental compliance upgrades, doubled wholesale power prices over the past 10 years. When those investments were made, it was anticipated that costs would be recovered over the expected useful life of the power plant. Prices have remained flat for nearly 10 years since those large investments were completed.
Financial plans can be interrupted when policymakers enact laws that shift energy policies too far and too fast. Radical shifts could leave Buckeye Power and its members with the undue burden of paying for stranded investments. Additionally, Buckeye Power would need to develop plans to comply with near-term policy decisions. All options threaten affordability.
Most Ohio electric cooperative members place reliability as their highest priority, even over price and environmental stewardship. Buckeye Power understands that members expect us to balance those issues; as such, we support policies that allow us to do so. There are many examples around the country and across the globe that point to the need to balance those interests. Buckeye Power’s mission is to keep prices stable and to manage risks in a volatile energy market. That won’t always result in the cheapest price; however, it will maintain a dependable supply of power for members when and where they need it.
Absent a major technological breakthrough, environmental responsibility will continue to be viewed in terms of cost and reliability constraints. The more we are willing to pay – and the more often we are willing to accept constraints on reliability – the easier it will be to achieve environmental goals. The challenge for utilities is finding an acceptable balance among the factors of environmental responsibility, cost, and reliability, that serves the interests of a majority of citizens.
As in financial investing, the industry will need to diversify its sources of power generation to mitigate risk and to maximize reliability. Pairing dissimilar technologies will help balance the desire for low prices, high reliability, and environmental protection. Sources like wind and solar are considered environmentally friendly, but costly and intermittent. Pairing them with full-time power sources like coal, hydro, natural gas, and nuclear generation can provide acceptable levels of reliability and help to reduce costs.
New technologies such as carbon capture, utilization and storage, hydrogen, and advanced nuclear generation are still decades away from scalable commercial applications.
We must foster a world of compromise. That is certainly true in the pursuit of responsible electric power generation options.
For the foreseeable future, efforts must continue to balance the inherent strengths and weakness of various generation options against the interests of competing voices – some calling for the cheapest power, others calling for all renewable options, and all demanding reliability. Regional differences in resources all shape differences in solutions for different parts of the country.
Choosing regional power options will require reasoned dialogue and wise compromises that minimize the consequences to our economy and our environment. For its part, Buckeye Power will continue to pursue promising new technologies and options for generating reliable, affordable, and environmentally responsible electric power.