Checking on the power that keeps you checking in

September 12, 2020

How does your power get to you? And who verifies that infrastructure conforms with environmental requirements? Who ensures reliable electricity continues to flow on both the coldest and hottest days of the year?

Great River Energy, Stearns Electric Association’s wholesale electric provider, works with many local, state and federal agencies so that the power you receive from us complies with environmental and utility regulations.

“Utilities generate and transmit electricity in such a way that their operations affect society — and the environment — as a whole, and not just the members or customers they serve,” said Greg Archer, Great River Energy’s manager, environmental services. “For that reason, companies like Great River Energy are compelled to do more than simply meet environmental requirements. We continually assess compliance to improve our environmental practices. We go above and beyond at Great River Energy by participating in the ISO 14001 auditing process where there is now greater emphasis on leadership, stakeholder engagement and actual environmental improvements.”

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the Midwest Reliability Organization (MRO) and others regulate utilities so that the power delivered to you is reliable and safe.

FERC is a government agency that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity and other utilities. It provides standards for utilities so that they operate in the best interest of the national grid.

NERC is responsible for the reliability of the bulk electric system in North America. It creates reliability standards for utilities like Great River Energy to follow and conducts audits to confirm each utility is following them. By performing these audits, the MRO assists NERC in maintaining reliability in the Midwest.

The Environmental Protection Agency, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provide environmental guidelines and standards for utilities. All of these agencies have a role to play in environmental standards and requirements.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission works with utilities, including Great River Energy, to set processes to approve power line and new generation projects and evaluate environmental impacts of those projects. Great River Energy also submits its integrated resource plan to the PUC for review.

Though all these agencies work in various functions to ensure a reliable, affordable electric system, no one has a larger stake in keeping rates low and the lights on than Great River Energy’s 28 member-owner cooperatives. Like all cooperatives, Great River Energy is governed by a board made up of its member-owners. The board helps Great River Energy operate under its cooperative principles and duties to the electric cooperatives it serves.