With different business models and priorities, it’s no surprise that cooperatives and municipalities also face different challenges when approaching grid modernization. Cooperatives are coming off more than a decade of zero interest loans and are already addressing metering and automation programs. Municipalities, on the other hand, haven’t been as flush with capital as their cities address other budget issues, though they still face pole attachment needs to meet 5G demands.

With a proactive approach focused on four key considerations, both cooperatives and municipalities can identify a cost-effective plan to address these unique challenges while also making the grid more reliable and resilient:

  1. Identifying what assets to replace, upgrade or change in a comprehensive plan, and establishing how to execute the plan without drastically increasing rates due to total dollars spent.
  2. Reviewing standards for physical assets and creating capacity to make a stronger grid and help reduce outages during storm events. A stronger grid also assists with the electrification of transportation and farm equipment as it happens in the future.
  3. Implementing advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) technology to create smarter grids that increase read rates, usage accuracy and may even increase revenue. This also provides options for supporting distributed generation and storage in the future, as well as managing peak costs for the system, helping to hold rates steady into the future.
  4. Leveraging distribution automation for reliable and resilient grids that can restore power quickly during outages.

Advancements in technology and implementation practices mean that grid modernization isn’t simply for those with billon-dollar capital expenditures. By identifying the right solutions and determining how to manage and prioritize projects, cooperatives and municipalities can do all that is necessary to bring their systems up to date — without risking members’ low rates or capital credits.


When the grid was built, many aspects of today’s load were inconceivable. Learn how utilities can meet emerging demand with strategies to make the grid stronger, smarter and more sustainable.

Read the White Paper

Travis Turner, PE, is a business development manager at Burns & McDonnell. He focuses on delivering innovative and cost-effective solutions for electric cooperatives, municipalities and utilities.