Thoughts on eggs, the economy and what’s too important to risk

Mr. Fettes' headshot in a blue shirt with co-op branding
Chris Fettes, Chief Executive Officer

“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” We often say this when someone is about to make a risky decision. If they heed this advice, it means they did not commit to “one basket,” but instead hedged their bets with multiple options.

It’s a simple way to describe Coastal Electric Cooperative’s commonsense approach to the current energy transition. We know that consumer interest in renewable energy continues to grow—and so does ours.

Recent innovations in renewable energy technologies have led to decreases in cost, making renewables more feasible, accessible, and scalable. Over the last few years, Coastal Electric has adjusted our fuel mix by adding more renewables. Not to brag, but we were early adopters, with the first Cooperative Solar array in Georgia, and today, renewable energy makes up 5% of our fuel mix, the majority of which is solar and hydroelectric.

Georgia’s electric cooperatives lead the nation among co-ops for solar energy, with 1,276 megawatts online today and another 812 mega-watts under construction.

Nationally, reliance on renewable energy resources is increasing, and at the same time when we’re seeing fossil fuel plants taken offline, often ahead of schedule. We’re also seeing more pressure on the electric grid due to the increasing frequency and intensity of severe weather events and rising electricity demand.

Competing pressures

So, how do we reconcile the challenges of grid pressure and a changing fuel mix? Solar and wind energy are certainly beneficial for the environment, but they are limited resources—the sun does not always shine and the wind does not always blow. That’s why we refer to wind and solar as “intermittent” power sources.

Our primary goal is to provide reliable electric service to you and our community, with as little interruption as possible. To this end, we need reliable sources of power that will meet all the peaks and valleys of on-demand energy in our connected world.

That’s where the adage about eggs and baskets comes into play. While we’re using more renewables, we are still incorporating other forms of energy in the mix to ensure reliable service. We spread our eggs into multiple baskets.

We’ve found great value in maintaining a diverse mix of fuel sources— fossil fuels and renewables to ensure reliability and resiliency, and to meet the growing demand for electricity.

We are committed to providing our members with reliable, affordable energy. That’s why fuel diversity—or placing our eggs in multiple baskets— is essential to reliability.

The Bottom Line

Lowering the overall carbon footprint in this country means we’re going to electrify more and more of our economy. Solar and wind are an important part of a broader energy portfolio, but they are not available around the clock.

As our nation increasingly depends on electricity to power the economy, Coastal Electric is working to anticipate, plan and respond to market trends and policy shifts. That’s how we can power your home and our economy, while continuing to serve as your community-owned electric utility.