CEO Corner: Our Shared Role

On Dec. 24, we made the difficult decision of asking our members to reduce their energy consumption due to severe strain on the entire mid-Atlantic energy grid. Early on Dec. 24, while many were preparing for holiday traditions and festivities, we received communication from our regional transmission organization, PJM, asking us to reduce our energy consumption due to fears of rolling blackouts. PJM monitors the demand and directs the energy production needs of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. Extremely low temperatures and a devastating winter storm in the Midwest contributed to a higher-than-normal demand on energy. We made the difficult decision of asking you, our members, to reduce your consumption to help us avoid rolling blackouts. I want to personally thank you for your efforts, and I want to better explain what happened and why.

If you look around your home, you likely have more devices and equipment that require electricity than ever before. Our connected lives are increasingly dependent upon more electricity to function. Many of you rely on electricity to heat your homes, to access clean water from your well, and to keep your children fed with nutritious food. We know how necessary it is to keep your home and your family powered 24/7.

In the days leading up to Dec. 24, much of the Midwest and portions of the Northeast were slammed by a winter storm that some are naming Elliott. The outage restoration efforts, paired with record-low and near-record-low temperatures, caused the potential for rolling blackouts. In a rolling blackout, homes are disconnected from power for a period of time in a geographic area to allow power generation facilities to ramp up production to meet the needs, then the power is restored and a new area is disconnected. This was used in Texas during the ice storm of 2021.

To prevent this from occurring in Virginia, we asked you to curb your energy consumption by lowering thermostats, stopping hot water use, and unplugging unnecessary appliances. We also had our engineers work behind-the-scenes at our substations to make changes, reducing our entire system’s demand on the statewide grid. Thankfully, our combined efforts and those of other co-ops and utilities in Virginia prevented the blackouts.

In 2022, we had a reliability rating of 99%, and we will work every day to maintain and improve reliability. My commitment to you is that we will work 24/7 to keep you connected 24/7. Thank you again for your assistance on Dec. 24, and thank you to our employees for helping us stay powered.