Powering the Future
The future of the energy industry is always in our sights at PEC. Click through the tabs below to see how we’re planning the future of our service area, laying the groundwork to supply our members’ current and future energy needs and employing the latest monitoring technology to maintain our lines and deliver minimal interruptions and rapid restoration.
Since 1982, growth in peak demand for electricity — driven by population growth, bigger houses, bigger TVs, more air conditioners and more computers — has exceeded transmission growth by almost 25 percent every year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
To maintain the system that has powered U.S. growth and prosperity, the electric industry is poised to make the transformation from a centralized, producer-controlled network to one that is less centralized and more consumer-interactive, relying on communications and conservation to help fulfill consumers’ demands.
When PEC installed its first TWACS (Two-Way Automatic Communication System) meters in 1997, the goal was to get easier, faster, less expensive meter readings. But they also allowed PEC to develop real-time system monitoring, interconnection, net metering and the MyUse Energy Analyzer — steps toward a more efficient, smarter grid.
In 2010, PEC launched a pilot project exploring the next generation of Smart Grid technology, putting systems in place that allow the Cooperative to work directly with its members to manage the appliances that place the highest demand on the system. Cooperative conservation may help reduce power consumption at times of peak activity, potentially avoiding surcharges that boost the cost of peak-demand power for the Lower Colorado River Authority, our primary wholesale power provider, and ultimately produce higher energy bills for PEC members.
As the nation’s grid continues to transform, PEC will continue to participate in innovative explorations of a Smart Grid, one that ensures reliability, maintains affordability and fully utilizes renewable and traditional energy sources.
Pedernales Electric Cooperative is a distribution and transmission cooperative, which means PEC doesn’t generate power but makes sure it is distributed reliably and affordably to its members.
The Lower Colorado River Authority is PEC’s primary wholesale provider for electricity. The LCRA generates power from a number of sources, including six hydroelectric dams, three gas-fired plants and a coal-fired facility. In 2010, the LCRA estimated that about 50 percent of its power is generated from coal, 46 percent from natural gas, 2 percent from hydroelectricity and 2 percent from wind energy.
PEC also has an agreement with AEP Energy Partners, which provides electricity produced by South Trent Wind Farm.
SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) is the state-of-the-art electronic nerve center of PEC. Using SCADA, our experts receive and analyze real-time data streaming from PEC’s 8,100-square-mile service area, and they use that information to monitor the health of equipment at more than 65 substations.
SCADA operators are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and they are an essential part of the team that works to restore power to members rapidly when an interruption occurs. SCADA also factors into PEC’s preventive maintenance efforts, detecting minor problems early enough to fix them before they become major problems.
SCADA plays a key role in the maintenance and construction of equipment to ensure substations are running safely and efficiently. Several other departments — including engineering, district operations and member services — also benefit from the information SCADA collects.