An open letter to Anza Electric Cooperative members asks, ‘how perfect are we?’

As a member-owned electric service provider, Anza Electric Cooperative is committed to delivering the most reliable utility services at the lowest possible cost to those we serve. Our goal is perfect service with perfect reliability.

How do we measure our performance? How close to perfection are we? There are many metrics available in our industry to measure our performance. One of the more commonly used is the Average Service Availability Index. Simply put, ASAI is the percentage of time in a year that our service is functioning and available to the average member. AEC’s five-year rolling average ASAI is 99.91 percent. This index means that out of the 8,760 hours in a year, we were fully functioning for 8,752.1 of those hours. In other words, we were out of service for 7.9 hours on average for the year. Not bad, but certainly not perfect. It’s worth noting, however, that 89 percent of these out-of-service hours, or 7.03 hours, were caused by circumstances that existed off our system.

The electric transmission and distribution system in the United States has been called the “largest machine ever built.” The part of this grid that we live in is called the Western Interconnection, and it consists of all or part of 14 states, two Canadian provinces and a small part of northern Mexico. Every area of the 1.8 million square miles of territory is served by this machine with electric energy that must function at the same voltage and frequency, 24 hours a day. Like all machines, it is prone to disruptions in service.

Our little portion of the larger grid takes delivery at our switch station in Mountain Center, as it has since 1951. This single point radial design made perfect sense nearly 70 years ago; it was low cost, and back then our load didn’t justify anything more complex. However, the times have changed, and our needs have changed as well.

In order to better understand our options for diversifying our supply, we undertook an extensive study of alternative transmission routes nearly 10 years ago. At that time, the study concluded that an alternate route, built for redundancy’s sake, would cost more than our entire existing system’s current value. In fact, the projected cost was between $35-50 million. Using the lowest cost estimate at the time made the price of this new transmission line nearly $4.5 million per hour in the first year of operation. Assuming a 30-year amortization would make this cost $150 thousand per hour of use. Using “cost effective” as a guideline for system improvements realistically deemed this option too expensive.

Since then, we have continuously sought other solutions to our reliability issue. We are currently investigating on-system battery storage, both utility scale and for the individual member. We are expanding our SunAnza project. We are investing heavily in upgrading our aging infrastructure, something that must be done on a regular basis.

As we continue this work, the best resource for information, as always, is the cooperative itself. Our member services team, as well as our technical staff, is available any time to answer questions. We work diligently to ensure the best possible service for all members, responding as soon as we can to any disruption in service. Our intent is to make information available regarding any outage as soon as it becomes available to us. While the cause of many outages becomes readily apparent, others take deeper investigation. Please rest assured that no matter what the cause, our team is always working on a solution to the problem.

While 99.91 percent is not perfect, it’s nonetheless a noteworthy performance. We’re still improving after 66 years of service to our members, and we will always do so. My sincere thanks to all of our members for your continued support and trust in us to deliver your utility needs.

Kevin Short

Anza Electric Cooperative General Manager

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