Co-ops Naturally ‘Consumer-Centric’

Members of Congress exploring how advanced energy technologies benefit consumers with more choices and convenience heard how electric cooperatives serve their members with the latest tools for affordable and reliable energy.

Holy Cross CEO Bryan Hannegan testifies before House subcommittee on how electric co-ops naturally serve their members with the latest tools for affordable and reliable power. (Photo By: House Energy & Commerce Committee)

Holy Cross CEO Bryan Hannegan testifies before House subcommittee on how electric co-ops naturally serve their members with the latest tools for affordable and reliable power. (Photo By: House Energy & Commerce Committee)

"Because they are member-owned, member-governed, not-for-profit utilities, America's electric cooperatives like Holy Cross are naturally 'consumer-centric,' " said Bryan Hannegan, president and CEO of Holy Cross Energy in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

Hannegan told the House Subcommittee on Energy how evolving technologies, public expectations and diversity within the electric grid require innovation and local decision-making.

"We regularly hear from our members about their wants and needs for energy services, which are rapidly changing given the array of new technologies able to serve them," he said.

And co-ops nationwide are rising to the challenge with an array of technologies and services ranging from smart water heaters for energy storage from renewable resources to weather-resistant microgrids, he said.

Hannegan noted that his co-op was "one of the first electric cooperatives to have advanced metering infrastructure fully deployed throughout our distribution system." Holy Cross has more than 56,000 members in five Western Colorado counties and more than 3,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines

"Our smart meters and related communications and control infrastructure allow us to detect outages in many cases before the member calls us," he said.

Co-ops can use this data to improve maintenance and also to determine where to install distributed energy resources and make investments to sustain the grid's reliability, he said.

"As the future electric grid evolves towards a 21st century future, cooperatives like Holy Cross will continue to invest in new technology, develop new programs and services, and evolve their businesses to meet the local needs of their consumers in light of local conditions, needs, and consumer preferences," Hannegan told the lawmakers.

"Changing technologies, evolving public expectations and the immense diversity within the nation's electric system will require local decision-making, innovation and flexibility from our industry. We encourage the committee to keep this principle in mind as it considers any future legislation affecting the electricity industry."


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