by Caleb Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org
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(September 26, 2023) – There is nothing more stressful to a farmer than a field of square hay bales all lined up in rows with dark storm clouds in the sky. Growing up, I spent many hours chasing square balers through fields, and all too often spent what felt like days squirreled away in some loft, shoving hay bales in between rafters.
It takes a certain skill set, not usually taught in schools, to load that truck bed full of hay so you don’t have to come back with another trailer. Each bale had a very specific place it had to go in the truck bed to make sure you weren’t reloading it halfway home. For my brother and I this was a science. At one point the Jones brothers were back-to-back hay hauling champions at the local fair.
This year, the drought in many areas caused a hay shortage. Empty barns forced folks to ship in hay from other counties and states. All too often the talk around the local coffee shops was focused on important questions: Do I have enough hay to feed through winter? Are there enough hay fields for everyone?
Similar discussions are going on with the electric grid. Across the country we are seeing utilities shutting down coal and gas plants and building solar farms. This looks like a great opportunity, but what happens when the sun isn’t shining?
The answer is scary. Utilities all around us are sending out warnings to their customers preparing them for blackouts. Just last week a friend told me his electric company shut off his air conditioner for a couple of hours in the middle of the day (we can talk about how a utility shuts off air conditioners later). We live in the greatest country in the world – how did we get to a place where power for some can’t be taken for granted?
The right explanation is often the simplest. We have more cows than ever but are getting rid of hay fields, expecting someone else to supply us with hay. Likewise, why would large parts of the nation shut down reliable generators and hope someone else can help them through crisis times?
The good news is Missouri’s electric cooperatives know why electricity is vital. Rather than shutting down power plants and replacing them with something that only works when it’s sunny, we are building two new gas generation plants to provide you, our member-owners, reliable electricity.
Good farmers do whatever it takes to make sure their cows eat. Likewise, your local electric cooperative is doing everything it takes to make sure you have the electricity you need – on sunny and cloudy days.
Caleb is the executive vice president and CEO of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives and a member of Boone Electric Cooperative.
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