SVEC’s changing resource mix
Consumers served by Suwannee Valley Electric know what it means to be a member of an electric cooperative. But did you know that SVEC itself is a member of a cooperative?
Generating safe, affordable and reliable electricity can be both complicated and expensive. Because building our own generation facilities wouldn’t be cost-effective, SVEC and other Florida cooperatives created Seminole Electric Cooperative, a wholesale energy provider that generates electricity from a variety of resources.
Just like our members pay SVEC for the electricity they use, we are a member of Seminole and pay Seminole for the share of electricity our system uses. And just like SVEC, Seminole is a not-for-profit organization, meaning it is always looking for new ways to provide reliable electric service at a lower cost to its member cooperatives. As the electric industry continues to evolve, Seminole is finding new ways to take advantage of emerging technology and resources.
“We’re always trying to balance the adoption of new technology, including solar, with the cost of electricity that’s passed on to the consumer at the end of the line,” says Ryan Hart, Seminole’s director of communications and energy policy. “As the price of new technology continues to decline, we continue to evaluate the best way to utilize it while minimizing any impacts that might have on people’s electric bills.”
A Diverse Mix
While coal and natural gas continue to be the primary sources of reliable and affordable electricity for Seminole, these resources are also a part of the cooperative’s energy mix that stands to change the most in the coming years.
Currently, Seminole’s owned generation resources include the 1,300-megawatt coal-fired plant at Seminole Generating Station (SGS) in northeast Florida, the 900-megawatt combined-cycle natural gas plant at the Richard J. Midulla Generating Station (MGS) in central Florida, and Seminole’s first Cooperative Solar facility, adjacent to MGS. Seminole also purchases power from other utilities, power producers and government organizations to maintain a balanced resource mix.
Seminole is taking steps to ensure its generation mix has both the capacity and diversity to remain safe, affordable and reliable as the electric industry changes. One such step is Seminole’s plan to remove one of the coal units at SGS from service in 2022 and replace it with a state-of-the-art combined-cycle natural gas facility capable of generating 1,050 megawatts of electricity.
“As a not-for-profit electric cooperative, we have a duty to our members to provide reliable electricity in the most economical way,” says Leigh Holmes, Seminole’s senior communications representative. “We must also manage risks relating to both the cost and availability of various sources of energy. We must remain a financially strong and stable organization for our members and employees. This plan helps us accomplish all of those goals.”
The new facility will be one of the most efficient power plants in the world, following a design that has been used in about 20 other facilities globally. Seminole expects the change to significantly reduce its impact on the environment while increasing the amount of energy it can produce.
“Our plan includes removing one of our coal-fired generating units from service in approximately five years and securing additional solar resources, which together will bring significant environmental benefits in the form of reduced emissions,” Holmes says. “We project a 40% reduction in air pollutants and a 34% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions while seeing a 27% increase in power output at the site.”
Clean Power You Can Count On
SVEC and Seminole are dedicated to providing affordable and reliable service while remaining good stewards of our environment.
In 2017, Seminole placed its 2.2-megawatt Cooperative Solar project into operation at the MGS site and is exploring additional solar power purchase agreements.
Seminole purchases additional power generated from a variety of renewable resources, including landfill gas and biomass. And as the cost of solar energy decreases, Hart expects there to be opportunities for Seminole to incorporate more solar power without putting an undue financial burden on member-consumers.
Independent of Seminole, SVEC receives an allotment of hydroelectric power generated by the U.S. Department of Energy at the Jim Woodruff Dam on the Apalachicola River near Chattahoochee, Florida. In all, more than 9% of the power SVEC delivers to its members comes from renewable resources.