Kayla Messamore, Sr. Director, Long Term Planning, Evergy
At Evergy, we strive to achieve balance in providing energy that is sustainable, reliable, and affordable. It’s all about finding the sweet spots: in our electrical grid investments to keep reliability high; in managing our business well to keep costs low; and in diversifying our generation sources to reduce our impact on the environment and ensure the power is there when customers need it.
Balance in sustainability comes from our decades-long commitment to providing cleaner energy. It is our future, and a big part of our past. In 1985, Evergy’s nuclear energy plant, Wolf Creek, began commercial operation. Today it continues to power nearly 800,000 homes. In 1999, we launched our first wind energy project and our first solar project in 2014. Now, Evergy is one of the nation’s leading wind producers about half of the energy we produce comes from carbon-free sources. We have reduced emissions from our generation facilities by 51 percent compared to 2005 levels.
Looking to 2031, Evergy is committed to retiring more than 1,000 megawatts of coal-based generation and adding more than 3,000 megawatts of renewable generation. Carbon emissions will be lower by 70 percent compared to 2005. We are intentionally moving toward sustainable, cleaner energy while at the same time carefully considering the impact on affordability.
“Technology often comes with a hefty price tag. One of the ways we counter that challenge is by investing in our own people.”
A farther look ahead brings even more balance. Evergy is working toward a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2045. To help achieve this goal, we continue the ongoing diversification of our generation portfolio to include more cost-effective renewables, the continued operation of our zero-carbon Wolf Creek nuclear station, and the retirement of more than 4,000 MW of fossil plant capacity. This transition to cleaner, more sustainable generation has the added benefit of reducing customers’ financial exposure to potential future carbon costs and environmental regulations.
Balance in reliability takes a similar path. Ever-evolving technology has provided great tools for us to use for both proactive and reactive efforts in reliability. From sensors that communicate faults and outages, to the use of drones that inspect assets and assess storm damage, we have an opportunity to identify and resolve smaller issues before they become bigger problems. Ultimately, our restoration efforts are more efficient, creating savings of time and money for our customers.
Maintaining high levels of reliability and balancing affordability can be a delicate process. Technology often comes with a hefty price tag. One of the ways we counter that challenge is by investing in our own people. Most recently, we had an intern who worked to develop a mobile fault locator. The idea was developed into a prototype through local partnerships and is now being field tested. This technology will assist crews in pinpointing problems on large spans of transmission lines. We are proud to share the intern involved is now a full-time employee.
Creating balance in affordability is key when it comes to everything we do as an energy provider. Evergy has some of the best minds in the industry making sure we continue to move clean, safe, reliable energy forward while keeping costs reasonable for customers. As we invest in technology and renewable energy, we also work to expand energy efficiency programs and rate options so our customers can choose the right type of service for them. We also work with state and local policy makers to ensure we continue to transition to cleaner sources and deliver customer value through adding cost-competitive renewable resources, while reducing risk in our existing generation assets.
While we keep looking forward as an energy provider, we understand the importance of building on the past. Our continued focus on maintaining balance in delivering sustainable, reliable, and affordable electricity for our customers provides the best roadmap to reach our goal.
Rebecca Delaney, P.E., Associate Director and Operations Leader for Sustainable Engineering Studio, and Luke Leung P.E., ASHRAE Fellow, LEED Fellow, BEMP, P Eng, Director of Sustainable Engineering Studio, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill