Our number one priority at West Florida Electric Cooperative (WFEC) is delivering reliable electricity to our members who count on us to power their homes and businesses around the clock. Electricity is an essential part of daily life, so it’s important that electric rates are affordable.
Approximately 61 percent of your electric bill covers the cost of generating power. To help keep the cost of energy affordable, we partner with other electric cooperatives and municipal electric systems through our wholesale power provider, PowerSouth. This allows us to pool resources to maintain an economical and reliable mix of energy 24/7/365.
Today’s energy mix
WFEC’s responsibility to our members and community is to safely provide electricity, at a price our members can afford with minimal effect to our environment. In keeping with these commitments, we use a diverse mix of generating resources (fossil fuels, renewables, and, soon, nuclear). Having multiple generating resources protects our members from unpredictable changes in the cost of fuels used to operate power plants.
Today, our energy mix consists of natural gas (77.2%), coal (18.9%), hydroelectricity (3.6%) and other renewables (0.3%). Compared to just three years ago when 48.1% was produced from PowerSouth’s natural gas units, while 22.4% was generated by their coal units.
We are continuing the shift to a more environmentally friendly energy supply. Currently, the majority of our electricity is generated by fossil fuels like natural gas and coal because they allow us to provide large amounts of energy at an economical cost around the clock. Natural gas is a reliable, clean-burning and cost- effective fuel source, and PowerSouth operates state-of-the-art power plants in Gantt and McIntosh, Alabama.
Coal-fired generation has long been a cornerstone of the energy mix, and will continue to serve a portion of our members’ energy needs in the future. Like natural gas, it offers a steady supply of energy at a low cost.
When it comes to renewable energy sources, hydroelectric generation and landfill gas-to-energy make up a small percentage of today’s energy mix. Hydroelectricity was PowerSouth’s first-generation resource and for 70 years has proven to be a reliable portion of the generating fleet. Landfill gas from the Springhill Regional Landfill near Campbellton, Florida, which is located in WFEC’s service area, provides enough green energy for approximately 4,000 homes.
Planning for the future
As we look toward the next generation of energy resources, we are taking steps today to ensure a safe, reliable, affordable and environmentally-friendly energy supply for the future. The long-term power supply plan includes implementing cutting-edge technology, construction of a new natural gas generating plant and utility-scale solar project, and the addition of nuclear energy.
By 2026, PowerSouth projects its energy mix will consist of natural gas (77.0%), nuclear (10.7%), coal (6.4%), and renewables such as hydro, landfill gas and solar (5.9%).
Construction of the new Lowman Energy Center is now underway. When complete, the state-of-the-art natural gas combined cycle power plant will be among the most technologically advanced, efficient and environmentally sound generating plants in the country. Scheduled for completion in 2023, the Lowman Energy Center will have the ability to serve the around-the-clock energy needs of more than 300,000 homes per year.
Adding nuclear energy to our power supply mix will also underscore our ability to supply uninterrupted power to our members at an affordable cost. Nuclear is a safe and reliable, “always-on” power source that promotes diversity of PowerSouth’s energy portfolio heading into the future. PowerSouth will add nuclear energy to its mix through a purchased power agreement with the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG). Energy will be generated at Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant’s two new units currently under construction. Through this agreement, PowerSouth will not own the nuclear power plant, but will purchase a portion of the energy it produces. The first unit will become operational in late 2021.
Finally, PowerSouth will soon begin construction of a utility-scale solar project in Wing, Alabama, scheduled to go online in 2022. This will add enough solar-generated energy to PowerSouth’s mix to power a portion of the energy needs of more than 13,200 homes. Solar is a welcome addition to our energy portfolio. Adding solar generation promotes diversity of our energy mix but also presents challenges because of its intermittent nature. We will continue to rely on traditional generating sources like natural gas to ensure a reliable energy supply at all times.
Our commitment to you
While the energy landscape is shifting, WFEC’s commitment to delivering reliable and affordable power remains unchanged. The decisions we make now will affect future generations, so we strive to make choices that will ensure we can provide clean, reliable, affordable electricity for years to come.
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Energy Efficiency Tip
Appliances & lighting can heat up our homes more than we think. To save energy, minimize the activities that generate additional heat, like continuously running a computer.