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Long Haul: Oil vs Electricity for the Masses (Page 3)
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reader50
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Mar 19, 2022, 02:48 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
In the model we use to judge reliability the scenario assumes only a trickle of imports from adjacent grids are available.

If we put the California grid into this scenario, on a hot day the grid crashes.

So, according to this model, California’s grid is unreliable.

Does that make sense? I’m not arguing that’s the correct model to use, I’m just trying to explain what the model is.
I don't know what model you're talking about, but it's inaccurate. The CA grid has held up during some punishing summer heat waves over the last decade.

There have been blackouts in northern CA during fire season, but those were intentional. The electric companies (PG&E mostly) got tired of being sued for their unmaintained lines starting major fires. So power is sometimes turned off during windy days in fire season. If temps are high, and humidity is low.

This policy is stupid in my opinion. Instead of cutting people's power, invest the money and upgrade your lines. Or trim brush & trees around them, etc. Remove the fire hazards instead of the power. They're just pushing people to buying generators, which can be fire hazards too. Or installing their own solar systems, which may result in a customer leaving the grid permanently.
     
OreoCookie
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Mar 19, 2022, 04:59 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
The American paradigm is to build excess capacity. You are absolutely correct Texas does not follow the paradigm of building excess capacity.
Do many American states have a lot of excess capacity that is in excess of e. g. international averages? (Personally, I have no idea. I’m just curious on what basis you make this claim.)
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Edit2: another way to think of it is European countries take a very “bespoke” approach to electricity. America is “one size fits all”. If I had to guess, that size was meant to be worn by someone expecting to eat a few ICBMs.
Does that really have anything to do with the Cold War? That ended 30 years ago, i. e. a generation ago. Electricity grids have moved on to some degree.

I was under the impression that one of the reasons some states’ power grids had problems (e. g. Texas and at some point at least California) is deregulation. As far as I understand that is the main reason why Texas’ power grid is separate from the rest of the US (otherwise you have trade across state lines and federal regulations apply).
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subego
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Mar 19, 2022, 11:14 AM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
I don't know what model you're talking about, but it's inaccurate. The CA grid has held up during some punishing summer heat waves over the last decade.
Is the model inaccurate, or has the scenario being modeled not occurred?

Scenario: electricity is not available to import during a punishing heat wave.


Edit: I’m talking about the model used by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).
( Last edited by subego; Mar 19, 2022 at 11:49 AM. )
     
subego
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Mar 19, 2022, 12:23 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Do many American states have a lot of excess capacity that is in excess of e. g. international averages? (Personally, I have no idea. I’m just curious on what basis you make this claim.)
For the 9 grids in Eastern, they range between 17% and 25% over typical summer demand.

Western is worse off. Those 3 grids are between 14% and 15% over typical summer demand.

The Texas grid is at 13%


Edit: this is why I keep saying Texas needs to build more capacity.


Edit 2: if we put some stress on the system and assume extreme heat, the Eastern’s nine grids range from 9%-19%. Western’s 3 range from 2%-12% (the 2% is California). The Texas grid is at 10%

Edit 3: under “worst case scenario” conditions, Texas and all of Western crash. Eastern has 3 of 9 crash.
( Last edited by subego; Mar 19, 2022 at 02:33 PM. )
     
ghporter
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Mar 19, 2022, 12:34 PM
 
That 13% excess capacity is almost certainly an accident.

But this is another situation where the suits save a little money up front, where they could MAKE a lot more money later. Building a little more excess capacity would certainly reduce the wear and tear on the existing generation facilities, which cuts maintenance costs, which improves the bottom line.

There will be a point when the rich, white, “privileged” voters who keep the scoundrels in office will feel the effects of this sort of short sightedness, and they’ll demand heads roll. It might be this summer; since we had a generally mild winter across the state, we could have a pretty harsh summer. And those privileged folks in Dallas could wind up without power - and thus without air conditioning - for their McMansions. What? No electricity for the espresso machine and the margarita mixer? OH NOZE!

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subego
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Mar 19, 2022, 01:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Do many American states have a lot of excess capacity
As an aside, “states” isn’t really correct. What we’re talking about have been termed “energy regions” or “energy subregions”.

Our states with the highest populations (California, New York, Texas, Florida) get their own subregion. The others cover multiple states.
     
subego
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Mar 19, 2022, 02:54 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
It's odd that you have "Land lease" AND "Property taxes". You'd expect either leasing cost, or (if they own the land) property tax. If you're paying both, you're being scammed.
My assumption here is at that level everyone knows what’s really going on.

Building the installation jacks up the property taxes. They could play a game where the lessor jacks up the rent to compensate, but don’t bother with that and have them as separate line-items.
     
OreoCookie
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Mar 19, 2022, 10:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
As an aside, “states” isn’t really correct. What we’re talking about have been termed “energy regions” or “energy subregions”.
Ok, but now the discussion becomes completely arbitrary: do we want overcapacity on the level of big grids, sub grids or states? And what should we compare it to?
Originally Posted by subego View Post
For the 9 grids in Eastern, they range between 17% and 25% over typical summer demand.

Western is worse off. Those 3 grids are between 14% and 15% over typical summer demand.

The Texas grid is at 13%
Again, is building a lot of excess capacity really the American Way to power grids? Seems like it isn’t.

I tried looking up the numbers in Europe, and I found this paper with numbers from 2015. Given the large shift over the last few years, perhaps things have changed, but still. Table 1 shows that all the European countries have an overcapacity of the order of 100 %. To be precise, Germany had 143 %, Italy 108 %, Portugal 115 %, Spain 164 % and the Netherlands of “only” 81 %. (I have obtained these numbers by dividing total power generation capacity by peak demand.) I am sure the actual reserves are lower, because e. g. of downtime due to scheduled maintenance. And you don’t need to generate peak power all the time. But all-in-all, building lots of overcapacity seems more like a European thing, the American Way seems like like “cutting it pretty close” — efficiency over resilience.

(Resilience is oft overlooked. When talking to a lot of adherents to straight-up market economics, they always talk about efficiency and almost never about resilience.)
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subego
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Mar 19, 2022, 11:51 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Ok, but now the discussion becomes completely arbitrary: do we want overcapacity on the level of big grids, sub grids or states? And what should we compare it to?
You are correct it is arbitrary.

America has three distinct “top-level” grids. Eastern, Western, and ERCOT (which I’ve been calling “Texas”).

We can subject the entirety of Eastern and Western to analysis, but if data more granular than that is needed, the only option is to bust these into smaller pieces. We break Western into 3 and Eastern into 9.

We want overcapacity on the level of these 12 grids.



I’m not sure I understand the “comparison” question.

To generate reliability assessments, we take each of these grids, calculate their capacity in various scenarios, and then compare capacity with demand scenarios.
     
subego
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Mar 20, 2022, 01:02 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
But all-in-all, building lots of overcapacity seems more like a European thing, the American Way seems like like “cutting it pretty close” — efficiency over resilience.
If I’ve misunderstood the European way, my apologies. I’m trying to piece it together from what you tell me. My knowledge on this is America-focused.

My point all along has been we don’t offline our existing coal due to the impact it would have on resilience.
     
subego
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Mar 20, 2022, 02:47 AM
 
Here’s one of the reliability assessments I keep talking about. Perhaps it will help clarify things. It’s for the Pacific Northwest Grid.



The blue bar is total capacity for the grid.

The first red bar is how much is typically offline.

The second red bar is how much goes offline when things shit the bed. Based on historical data, there’s a 1-in-10 chance of this.

The orange bars are peak demand in a normal summer and a hot (1-in-10 chance) summer.


So, there’s a 1-in-10 chance for this (2021) summer that they’re 4.1GW in the hole. There’s a 1-in-100 chance they’re 5.8GW in the hole. If they can’t make it up in imports, the grid crashes.

Yes, this can likely be made up with imports, but do we leave that to chance? That’s 8 states with no power if we gamble wrong.



Edit: at the least (IMO), the PNW grid should be able to meet normal demand plus 10% under “shit the bed” conditions.

That’s 72.6GW.

Under “shit the bed” conditions 21% goes offline, so we need 91.8GW to provide 72.6GW.

That’s 19GW of extra capacity needed.
( Last edited by subego; Mar 20, 2022 at 03:28 AM. )
     
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Mar 20, 2022, 05:52 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
If I’ve misunderstood the European way, my apologies. I’m trying to piece it together from what you tell me. My knowledge on this is America-focused.
Sure, I understand that. And I'm just trying to put this in perspective. I could have added something about the Japanese power grid, but for bat shit crazy reasons it has two incompatible grids (one running at 50 Hz, the other at 60 Hz), so it didn't seem pertinent. Plus, Japan is really behind when it comes to renewables, the nuclear industry has a vise grip on politics.

I think one of the reasons for this overcapacity are actually renewables. I reckon that wind parks are sized so that expected demand can be met with “average” wind conditions (whatever those are locally). So especially on shore wind power has to be over specced. That's why there are days and times when 100 % of the German demand has been met with renewables even though on average they “only” contribute about 50ish %.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
My point all along has been we don’t offline our existing coal due to the impact it would have on resilience.
I understand. But I'd say that all factors that I'd consider negative are compounded in Texas: lack of interconnectivity, lack of excess capacity, lack of preparedness and lack of robustness of the grid itself. Under these conditions I of course wouldn't suggest to switch off capacity that isn't urgently needed, not without building new capacity first.
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subego
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Mar 20, 2022, 10:35 PM
 
My point is we can build interconnects to Texas and modernize their grid, but they’re still hosed when they get plugged into our reliability model.

They have 86.3GW
Typical outages are 3.6GW
Low wind outages (1-in-20 chance) are 6.6GW
They can claw back 2.3GW by way of tactics like dropping voltage

That’s 78.4GW

Normal demand is 74.8GW. 5% safety margin.
Extreme (1-in-10 chance) demand is 77.7GW. 1% safety margin.

Extra capacity is sorely needed even with interconnects and improved infrastructure. It’s sure as shit needed without them. Even if we fix these problems, for Texas to retain reliability (resiliency) it can’t offline its coal. It doesn’t have the capacity to offline anything. Not now, and not after we dump billions into fixing problems which aren’t a lack of capacity.
( Last edited by subego; Mar 20, 2022 at 10:54 PM. )
     
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Mar 23, 2022, 09:21 AM
 
The most recent episode of 99 % Invisible covered the big blackout in February 2021 and holy shirt, is the Texas grid and its organization effed up.
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Mar 23, 2022, 10:39 AM
 
It’s important to note that the Texas grid, and its management organization is built the way it is on purpose. It started as “we’re isolating our grid so we don’t have to comply with federal regulations,” but it’s grown into a model for making money for fat cats while ignoring the whole purpose for the business to begin with.

I’ve written, then deleted a rant on this. Because I really need to focus that energy on removing Abbott instead of just venting about him.

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Mar 23, 2022, 08:01 PM
 
If the podcast is accurate, then the situation in Texas is truly absurd. I had assumed it was the electricity companies that were raising the prices of electricity, but it was the regulatory body, believing that this was the way to regulate demand. Apparently, it did not occur to them that just like someone who has been in a life threatening accident doesn’t mind in the moment that a bandaid costs $2 or $200, people needed to heat their homes. Then there was the circular firing squad situation where the power companies turned off electricity to the gas companies — who then couldn’t deliver gas to the power companies anymore, which resulted in a further drop of capacity, which forced more shut downs …And they said that there were two occasions after February 2021 which were a close shave.

Similar problems are also endemic in Japan. We had a strong earth quake two weeks ago (magnitude 7.3–7.4), which damaged equipment in coal power plants and triggered the shut down of several power plants. Also, it has been unusually cold (sense a pattern?) and dark (less power from solar), so people have been running their ACs. Businesses have reduced their power usage here, and even during my first visit it was common to shut down electricity on the entire university campus for an hour during the day when it was very hot. Since 3/11 only a quarter of nuclear power plants have been turned back on, and there is strong resistance among the population, which the ruling party is trying hard to overcome. (They are very cozy with nuclear power providers for more reasons than one.) Apparently, a big contributing factor is the failed liberalization, and many of the factors seem very reminiscent of Texas. They tried to increase competition, but that led power companies to e. g. switch off unprofitable coal power plants and reduce excess capacity. In addition, they have been switching to renewables without overhauling the electricity grid. Japan has tons of coast line, which would be perfect for offshore wind.
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subego
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Mar 26, 2022, 01:04 AM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
Because I really need to focus that energy…
You live in Texas. What energy?

Hey-ooooooooooo.
     
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Apr 1, 2022, 10:59 AM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Shortcut View Post
As with most other problems in the US, I’m going to ignorantly assume the issue is a combination of i) a lack of state cooperation for no logical reason other than stubborn selfish pride, and ii) a complete inability to wisely direct government oversight for the good of tax payers as a whole due to ultra-rich business owners indirectly buying off elected officials to allow themselves to extract maximum profits at the expense of a worse overall product.

Am I wrong?
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
It’s important to note that the Texas grid, and its management organization is built the way it is on purpose. It started as “we’re isolating our grid so we don’t have to comply with federal regulations,” but it’s grown into a model for making money for fat cats while ignoring the whole purpose for the business to begin with.

I’ve written, then deleted a rant on this. Because I really need to focus that energy on removing Abbott instead of just venting about him.
Answer: “no”
     
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Apr 7, 2022, 12:23 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
You live in Texas. What energy?

Hey-ooooooooooo.
Here’s your rim shot….

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reader50
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May 14, 2022, 07:21 PM
 
Here we go again. ERCOT has asked Texans to turn up their thermostats to at least 78 degrees, and avoid using heavy appliances during afternoons. Through this weekend.

Six power plants have been knocked offline by the unexpected high temperatures this time. Apparently, there wasn't enough reserve capacity to cover the rare conditions. And no regulations forcing preparedness.

Unfortunately, the news is light on exact details. Check ERCOT's actual statement for limited details. It gives the available capacity of Wind, Solar, and Thermal (fossil + nuclear), but doesn't say which type(s) of plants went offline, or for what reason. Also, I'm not clear where Hydro fits into those three categories. Maybe "Wind" as the winds bring the rains according to popular songs.
     
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May 14, 2022, 09:13 PM
 
The only thing I can think about with the hydro is the reliability isn’t in question, but I honestly have no real idea.
     
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May 15, 2022, 07:10 PM
 
My suspicion is that if renewables were to blame, you’d hear about it, if not from ERCOT then from Texan politicians. At least I don’t see a way how wind and solar are directly impacted as they do not require cooling or some such as fossil and nuclear do. Last summer, France had to shut down a significant share of its nuclear power plant due to cooling water reaching critical temperatures (critical for the environment, not for the power plants).
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subego
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May 15, 2022, 10:20 PM
 
I wouldn’t say renewables are to blame, but if I’m reading their press release correctly, it’s not particularly windy right now. Unsurprisingly, solar is all good.
     
OreoCookie
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May 15, 2022, 11:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I wouldn’t say renewables are to blame, but if I’m reading their press release correctly, it’s not particularly windy right now. Unsurprisingly, solar is all good.
I don't know what the wind is like in Texas these days, I'm just saying that heat doesn't impact wind power plants the same way it impacts nuclear and fossil fuel power plants. (For sure heat has an impact on the weather, but it is not clear to me whether heat means more wind, less wind or there is little relation between the two.)
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subego
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May 16, 2022, 12:33 AM
 
Sorry. I was making an edit then got pulled away.

According to that ERCOT press release, at 4PM on the 13th, wind was generating 17% of its total installed capacity. This is presumably due to lack of wind, not heat frying the generator.
     
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May 18, 2022, 09:28 AM
 
I have yet to find a published reason for those 6 generation plants to have gone “offline” when they did. Bad scheduling for maintenance? I don’t think so. Frankly I think they’d just forgo maintenance (whenever it was more profitable to defer the outage to a real failure).

I think it’s a matter of lack of standards and lack of regulations requiring generation facilities to maintain their equipment with any level of reliability.

Like people, corporations tend to “live down” to expectations. If you don’t require a level of reliability that would support maintaining grid functioning to support Texans, the suits that own and operate these facilities, who don’t live in Texas, won’t give a rat’s skinny tail about reliability. THAT is how markets work. So much for “let Capitalism do its thing”, eh Texas Republicans?

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May 18, 2022, 11:48 AM
 
Utilities aren't subject to actual competitive or regulatory pressure in most places in the U.S.

Quite the contrary, in fact.

This is worth your time (John Oliver from last weekend):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-YRSqaPtMg
     
subego
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May 18, 2022, 01:00 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
Bad scheduling for maintenance? I don’t think so. Frankly I think they’d just forgo maintenance (whenever it was more profitable to defer the outage to a real failure).
I’m positive maintenance had something to do with it. May is a typical maintenance month because there’s usually mild weather and low demand compared to winter or summer.

I read at least one plant was asked to forestall maintenance, they did, and then the shit broke down.


Edit: ERCOT claims they’ll give more info tomorrow (Thursday).

Edit2: I also read there’s a correlation between heat waves and wind lulls.
( Last edited by subego; May 18, 2022 at 01:44 PM. )
     
reader50
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May 18, 2022, 06:02 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I also read there’s a correlation between heat waves and wind lulls.
Living in a hot area, I can testify to this. A lull in the wind doesn't automatically give a hot day. But a hot day always comes with a nearly or full lull.
     
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May 18, 2022, 09:45 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
Living in a hot area, I can testify to this. A lull in the wind doesn't automatically give a hot day. But a hot day always comes with a nearly or full lull.
I believe you. Although I reckon that depends on the geography and topology. I live by the seaside, and very often temperature and wind are coupled, depending on whether the wind blows colder air from the sea towards the coast or the winds are blowing from the mountains.

@subego
Is 17 % below the yearly average? Is it below previous averages for the month of May? If so, by how much?
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subego
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May 18, 2022, 10:18 PM
 
My understanding is May in Texas is usually windy. This is normally a nice setup. Demand is generally low, so the wind can pick up a lot of it. This lets them offline fossil stuff for maintenance before summer demand hits.

One slice of the first week of May in 2019 fluctuated between 10-20GW from wind. The press release from a few days ago said it was generating 5GW. I presume there has been a not insignificant increase in wind capacity since 2019.
     
subego
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May 19, 2022, 11:10 AM
 
Guess whose favorite reliability assessment just dropped…

https://www.nerc.com/pa/RAPA/ra/Reli...C_SRA_2022.pdf

Midwest looks hosed.
( Last edited by subego; May 19, 2022 at 11:26 AM. )
     
subego
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May 19, 2022, 11:16 AM
 
Here’s some ERCOT Tex Arcana for everyone.



As always, right on the edge.

Typical forced outages is the average over the last three years.
Extreme derates is the 95th percentile of forced outages over the last three years.
Extreme demand is the 90th percentile over the last 15 years.
It doesn’t seem to list what the low-wind scenario is based on.


Also, brand new technology this year… diagonal lines on the bar graph!

Their adventures in justified text were a little less successful.



It works if you imagine Shatner reading it.
( Last edited by subego; May 19, 2022 at 06:37 PM. )
     
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May 20, 2022, 01:42 AM
 
Imports? From where? I thought the Texan grid wasn't connected to other states? Or are those imports from Mexico?
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May 20, 2022, 02:58 AM
 
The two images are unrelated - the text justified box is borrowed from one of the western grid graphs.
     
subego
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May 20, 2022, 03:25 AM
 
Aha! Yes!

However the little green +1.7GW bar from the Texas bar graph does include a small amount of imports.

I only have 2011 data. At that time there were 5 tiny interconnects. Only enough to push 1GW total. Three to Mexico, so right on with that. One to Oklahoma, and it looks like the last is to Arkansas.

NERC is cutting Texas slack here. Usually they don’t allow for imports at all.
     
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May 20, 2022, 03:52 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
NERC is cutting Texas slack here. Usually they don’t allow for imports at all.
Yeah, really seems like they are cheating federal law here. (Which as I understand it was the rationale behind not connecting in the first place.)
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May 20, 2022, 01:01 PM
 
I think it’s important to note that the “historically, Texas in May has mild temperatures” does not take into account how screwy actual weather has been compared to “climate expectations” . Like the climate actually has, I dunno…changed?

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subego
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May 20, 2022, 01:15 PM
 
Might be a problem when it comes to weather dependent generation methods.
     
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May 21, 2022, 05:41 PM
 
So far the wind and sun have been following established patterns, though this year it's been windier here than usual. Temperatures have been "above typical" levels for this time of year (AKA it got hot much earlier in the year), and rainfall in San Antonio is very much "you get your average rainfalls in a few BIG events," so it's harder to track. My "feel" for it is fewer, bigger events, but no real data.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
reader50
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May 21, 2022, 07:49 PM
 
I haven't seen any statements from ERCOT about the May 14-15 event. Where six (natural gas?) plants were knocked offline by the heat. Even their residential outage reports skip over May 14-15.

Guess it won't come out until an annual report.
     
subego
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May 21, 2022, 08:11 PM
 
Yup. Crickets.
     
subego
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May 22, 2022, 10:01 AM
 
Tried to see if I could divine anything from this ERCOT fuel mix chart.



Can’t see anything obviously go offline, though there were some nukes that weren’t online beforehand, and you can see the wind (green) crater around the event.

NatGas looks on par through this period. No idea why there’s no solar. Edit: this graph also answers why ERCOT didn’t bother with listing hydro in their press release.


Here are the NatGas peaks:

( Last edited by subego; May 22, 2022 at 12:21 PM. )
     
subego
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May 22, 2022, 11:15 AM
 
Speaking of nukes, I highly recommend the movie The China Syndrome. At the time of its release they made it sound boring and topical by tying it in to Three Mile Island. In reality, it’s a total banger conspiracy thriller where Admiral Rickover’s ghost fucks your shit up.
     
reader50
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May 22, 2022, 01:01 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Tried to see if I could divine anything from this ERCOT fuel mix chart.
You'd have to do some graph additions. If they give the data in table form, it would be easier to play with.

Wind and solar are variable. So utilities use all available wind+solar at any given time (they're cheapest), then ramp the natural gas plants up/down to compensate for remaining variation. That's why the gas peaks correspond to the wind troughs.

Looks like they're also ramping coal at the same time - it's a smaller copy of the gas. As coal is almost always more costly than gas, it will be the fuel of last resort. Ramping the coal suggests they're near the limits of generating capacity - which we know to be correct.

The gas peaks are generally going down, while the coal peaks slowly go up. I'd expect them to be in sync, or coal to go up when gas is maxed out. This hints at a problem on the gas side - it should stay maxed, with coal going up to fill any demand gap.
     
subego
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May 22, 2022, 01:13 PM
 
Here’s where the data is from. You’ll have to scroll down to find the fuel mix graph, and then massage the filters.

https://www.eia.gov/electricity/grid...authority/ERCO

ERCOT dropped their press release on the 13th. That’s the highest spike in the NG graph. The next spike from the 14th is only about half a GW off that peak. From this I would conclude they lost minimal if any NG capacity. Could be wrong though.


Edit: the double whiplash between the 16th and the 20th could definitely mean something. Especially if it wasn’t cooler on the 17th and the 19th.
( Last edited by subego; May 22, 2022 at 01:28 PM. )
     
subego
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May 22, 2022, 04:54 PM
 
It occurred to me that if some NG plants shit the bed, that doesn’t mean they didn’t have other NG capacity to make up for it. The problem could be it just put them closer to crossing the line, right when they need to offline everything for maintenance.
     
subego
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May 31, 2022, 03:11 PM
 
Still waiting ERCOT. We have long memories.
     
reader50
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May 31, 2022, 04:51 PM
 
Check on Friday evenings. That's the traditional time to release news they'd rather not talk about.

Political administrations do it all the time. It's even non-partisan.
     
subego
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May 31, 2022, 05:04 PM
 
I feel like the 24-hour news cycle/Internet/Trump has changed that a bit.

‘Member F5 Fridays?
     
 
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