Currently, the system of providing electricity is divided into three segments: generation, transmission and delivery.
Generation is the actual production of electricity, which takes place at a power plant. Iowa's electric cooperatives provide electricity produced by a variety of generating sources, including coal, nuclear, hydro, natural gas and some alternate energy sources like wind.
The Energy Policy Act of 1992 allowed for wholesale competition in the generation area. Since that time, all generation companies have been able to sell their electrons on the open market.
Transmission is the physical transportation of electricity from the generation facility to the delivery company. Transporting this energy is accomplished via an interlocking grid of high-voltage lines spanning the country. Recent federal actions have opened up access to the transmission system so that all generation companies can feed their electricity into the transmission grid (for a fee), and all delivery companies can receive needed power from that grid.
Delivery is the distribution of electricity – received from the generation facility, via the grid – for delivery to consumer's homes, farms and businesses over the delivery company's lines and poles. Iowa's distribution electric cooperatives deliver power to their members.
Among the core values of electric cooperatives are customer service and innovation. As the electric industry continues to evolve, and as customer needs and market conditions change, electric co-ops must evaluate strategies for distributed energy sources. The Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives works with the Cooperative Research Network to evaluate consumer services and technologies that can improve energy efficiency, increase comfort and satisfaction, and lower costs.
Learn more about the Cooperative Research Network online, www.nreca.coop/programs/CRN.