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Wednesday Feb 6, 2019   
The cold weather is locked in across Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest for the next two weeks.  This alone is enough to shift the natural gas rescom demand to levels that make the pipeline balances tough on a daily basis.  When you factor in the power loads are shifting up and the marginal megawatt is moving higher in the supply stack, the burden is pushed onto the natural gas-fired generation across the grid.  Since the Pacific Northwest is a net exporter of power on most days, times like these does not warrant more power burns per say as the Midc just needs to price itself high enough to keep the megawatts as home instead of flowing down into California on the AC or DC interties. Figure 1 | CAISO Day-Ahead Transmission Flows - Hourly In the figure above, the top ... » read more
Tuesday Feb 5, 2019   
Back in the day when natural gas production was tied mainly to the Gulf of Mexico, the pipeline infrastructure was a one-way street as the deliveries moved gas out of the Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas up to the Northeast via Texas Eastern, Tennessee Gas, Transco, Columbia and Texas Gas pipelines.  After a couple of massive hurricanes ripped through the Gulf of Mexico and the new development of shale gas 10 years ago, the Marcellus/Utica production basin in the Northeast portion of the United States was the focal point of all discussions within the natural gas sector.  Such discussions led to the each one of the pipes mentioned above to reverse its compression and flow gas bi-directionally to where the less expensive and more reliable shale gas can makes its way back down into ... » read more
Monday Feb 4, 2019   
As the Western portion of the US watched the news last week tied to the Polar Vortex, it was hard to imagine just how cold it really was as some places saw temperatures drop to minus 50/60 degrees with the wind chill factor.  This weekend was a little different as the warmer weather returned to the grid as the Midwest saw a 100 degree swing as highs were around 40 degrees.  In the Ohio Valley, the daytime highs moved up to 60 degrees on Sunday, which made for a nice day to be outside. In the Northeast, the Patriots fans who did not make the trek to Atlanta, were able to tailgate prior to the Super Bowl, where they were trying to go for their 6th title under their current coach and this quarterback by the name of Tom Brady.   The tide has turned, where anyone east of ... » read more
Friday Feb 1, 2019   
The stories and images over the past couple of days tied to the Polar Vortex that moving through the central part of Canada, the Midwest and down into the Ohio Valley and Southeast  have been nothing short of astonishing.  Especially when you see the ice formation on Lake Michigan  or across streams that have a hard time freezing over even in the heart of winter. Figure 1 | Lake Michigan/Chicago Skyline - Polar Vortex Last Two Days When I talked to my sister, who lives in Minneapolis, she mentioned that is was minus 62 degrees at the time we were on the phone.  This included the wind chill element of the actual feel outside and was one of the coldest levels on record.  She told me not to worry as the forecast was calling for the daytime highs to be up to 42 ... » read more
Thursday Jan 31, 2019   
While the past week was a brief reprieve from the formidable winter weather, the polar vortex has finally reared its ugly head as temperatures dropped down into the negatives throughout parts of the Midwest and the Northeast. Chicago was even predicted to be colder than Mount Everest base camp with a high of just -12 degrees. The strong winds from the storm further exacerbated the cold causing the National Weather Service to issue a warning with frostbite possibly setting in after 5 minutes of exposure to the expected -51 degree wind chill. In order to counteract the dangers of the arctic blasts, many public schools closed keeping children from venturing into the blizzard. Figure 1 | Thursday Temperature Anomaly With the cold spell dropping into the PJM footprint, the ISO has fared ... » read more
Wednesday Jan 30, 2019   
Over the past couple of years, Southern California's natural gas infrastructure has been hit with the Aliso Canyon valve leak, a rupture on the L-235 section of pipe that started the limitation of pipeline capacity from the Desert Southwest to the inner-parts of SoCal Gas's system.  Since October 2017, the grid has been under a lot of pressure as the natural gas demand within the LA Basin has outpaced the pipeline transport capacity pointed towards it.  In a joint agency workshop on January 11th, several agency representatives got together to discuss some of the things that could be done to keep the volatility at SoCal Citygate to a minimum. It was stated in the workshop that there were 299 Low Operational Flow Order (OFO) days between December 2015 and December 2018 ... » read more
Tuesday Jan 29, 2019   
Last Monday there was a rupture on the Texas Eastern Pipeline in Noble County, Ohio jsut south of their Berne compressor station. The explosion thankfully occurred in a remote area with only one boy receiving injuries. This is the second major rupture on the pipeline in the area. During the summer of 2016, the same pipeline ruptured just east of Pittsburgh at the Delmont compressor. The cause of that break was deemed to be corrosion. The section that is now under investigation was installed in the early 1950's. It is comprised of three separate pipelines that move gas out of Ohio and Pennsylvania down to the Gulf of Mexico. Only one of the three pipelines was ruptured so over the weekend, Enbridge the owner of Texas Eastern, restored partial flows on the route out of the ... » read more
Monday Jan 28, 2019   
If you live in the Midwest, you better make sure you have your thick winter coat handy this week as Chicago is looking at overnight lows down around a negative 24 degrees.  In the Ohio Valley, if you just installed a new natural gas fired furnace, instead of the electric baseboard heat you have relied on, it is just in the nick of time as the chill is showing up by mid-week.  Figure 1 | The Waters of the Midwest Over in the Northeast, the arctic blast is going to send chillier temperatures in and around Boston as the Patriots head down to Atlanta to take on the Rams in Super Bowl LII.  Speaking of Atlanta and the Southeast, it is quite cold this week so any fan or business person traveling to the region for the Super Bowl, bring that heavy coat with you.  The bottom ... » read more
Friday Jan 25, 2019   
Before we get into Machine Learning Part 2, let's get you up to speed on life in the Smart-lane.   In the last week, I have told my Google Home Assistant many times to turn my lights on and off and my thermostat up and down.  She (I set it to speak in with the voice of an Australian woman--don’t ask me why), has honored my requests without fail.  As i make my requests, I have been trying to say “Hey Google, please”—I figure politeness with an inanimate object will help me with my interactions with real people.  Let’s see how long that lasts. How will the voice-activated smart home impact energy use in residential sector? The dramatic increase of “intelligent” devices in the home obviously creates opportunities for ... » read more
Thursday Jan 24, 2019   
An arctic blast struck the Northeast dropping temperatures into the single digits throughout the region. As people migrated indoors and cranked up their furnace, natural gas demand increased causing prices to rocket upwards during the 4 day gas package. Most of the uptick was tied to the late Sunday and Monday chill that was suppose to hit the region, therefore most of Saturday and early Sunday was able to remain in the gas fleet. As expected, Monday continued to cool down and both natural gas and power consumption rose despite it being the MLK holiday. This drove up rescom demand for gas and tightened up pipelines ultimately pushing the power supply stack to oil generation. While this shift could be seen throughout each of the Northeast ISOs, it appeared to be most prominent in ... » read more
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