Get to Know the U.S. Power Grid
The U.S. power grid is complex and interconnected, with many players and checks and balances to help ensure reliability and supply.
Where We Get Your Power
We don’t generate electricity. In today’s complicated markets and regulatory mandates, we don’t have enough customers or employees to do it effectively, and many electric co-ops and municipalities are in the same boat. As a result, we rely on bigger organizations to make the electricity that we deliver to you. Our partner for this is Wolverine Power Cooperative, a Michigan-based generation and transmission company that serves Michigan cooperatives. They manage the fuel mix and ensure the consistent and reliable flow of electricity onto the grid.
With seven natural gas power plants, shares in three coal power plants, and a diverse mix of renewable energy sources, Wolverine has a robust infrastructure working 24/7 to ensure reliable power.
Learn more about Wolverine at wolverinepowercooperative.com.
Getting Power to You
There are three major players in the electric grid: generators, distributors and transmission grid operators. Generators, like Wolverine Power Cooperative, create electricity from a wide range of fuel sources. Distributors, like MEC, take that electricity from the grid and bring it to customers via their networks of power lines and substations.
Transmission grid operators are independent third parties between the generators and the distributors, and they are responsible for balancing the system. While they don’t own power plants or power lines, they work with generators like Wolverine to ensure there is enough electricity to meet customers’ demands. Additionally, grid operators say when power plants should and should not run and are responsible for maintaining the health of the grid should supply issues arise.
The grid operators are the ones who call on generators and power companies to implement rolling blackouts in emergencies. While inconvenient, these blackouts protect the grid from permanent damage.
We have two such operators that oversee our territory: PJM Interconnection and MISO. Together, they manage the flow of electricity for 110,000,000 residences and businesses throughout multiple states and parts of Canada. We do not choose which grid operator(s) manage our territory, as that is determined purely by where we are located and the companies with which we are interconnected. Part of our service territory is interconnected with American Electric Power (AEP) and First Energy, which are managed by PJM. We also have interconnections with Consumers Energy and Michigan Electric Transmission Company, which are managed by MISO.
These companies own the very large transmission towers and high-voltage lines that deliver electricity from the generators to our substations.
Outages on their transmission lines can knock out power to our substations, and that ultimately means you lose power too.
We maintain our substations and the lines and poles to your homes and businesses. However, as you can see, we depend on a lot of other players to ensure you have safe and reliable power.