Delivering safe, reliable, affordable, and environmentally responsible power supply and related services for over 70 years
Imagine what your job would be like if you couldn’t store your product – not even for a short period of time until a truck could come to pick it up. If you are a farmer or a manufacturer, imagine if the grain you grow or the milk your cows produce, or the widgets you build had to instantly go from harvest or production to immediate consumption. Lastly, imagine that the demand for your product never stops and varies wildly throughout the day, but you always had to produce the exact right amount with no shortages or overages.
That’s what electric cooperatives do every day to keep the lights on.
To meet this challenge, power companies, like NIPCO, rely on a complex and interconnected electric grid to deliver power to homes and businesses across America the instant that it’s needed. The tricky thing about electricity is that it must be used, or moved to where it can be used, the second it’s produced; it generally can’t be stored like water or gas. What’s more, electricity moves at the speed of light along the path of least resistance.
There are two parts to power supply: generation, or contracting for the bulk supplies of electricity, and transmission of that electrical power at wholesale prices to the local co-ops for distribution.
The spinning of a generator produces electricity; most generators are driven by steam, using a variety of fuel sources: water, coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind, solar, and biomass are just some of these fuel sources. Generated power is transmitted across a vast grid of high-voltage lines, to and through, substations, stepping the power down along the way to prepare it for member use. Think of substations as "off-ramps" on the highway of electric delivery.
Generation and transmission (G&T) cooperatives (there are 7 G&Ts operating in Iowa) produce and/or purchase power from a variety of sources and sell wholesale electricity and transmission services to Iowa’s local distribution cooperatives. These G&T cooperatives are owned by the distribution cooperatives they serve. NIPCO is a G&T.
If you live in western Iowa, your local rural electric distribution cooperative (REC) is, likely, a member of NIPCO.
NIPCO delivers electricity to its 7 member rural and municipal electric cooperatives via 921 miles of 69kV (69,000 volts) line, 2 source substations, 78 distribution substations, and 18 switch stations throughout a 6,500 square mile service territory in western Iowa.
An electric cooperative operates a distribution system, purchases wholesale power (from a G&T) and delivers it to member-owners (consumers). Your REC delivers electricity to homes, schools, farms, small businesses, industries and other locations within the boundaries of its service territory.
All of the state’s electric co-ops also offer a wide variety of energy-efficiency programs to their member-consumers, so they can use electricity as wisely as possible.
Iowa’s electric co-ops believe that energy and environmental policies must balance the needs of individuals, the environment and the communities they serve. Because it isn't just delivering a safe, reliable, and affordable power supply to our member-owners. It's about delivering power that is environmentally responsible, too.
How Power is Restored
Restoring the power after a severe storm involves much more than just flipping a switch at a substation or pulling a fallen tree off a downed power line. Highly trained workers from local electric cooperatives, crews from neighboring states and specialists from the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives work together around the clock to restore service.