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Monday May 14, 2018   
Each quarter the CAISO releases a report that summarizes the economic benefits of the energy imbalance market (EIM).  On April 30th, the most recent release of the report was sent out, and can be found here.  It concludes that this past Q1 there was $42 million in gross benefits, and that since the EIM's inception in November of 2014, there have been $330 million in benefits.  While these numbers are wonderful, and certainly prove that the EIM is overall a good thing for its participants, one should question what is at the core of these benefits.  To start off let's look at the last six days of EIM transmission flows, as seen in Figure 1.     Figure 1 | CAISO > PNW (AC) Flows (top) and CAISO > DSW Flows (bottom) - Negative Flows are Moving Out of ... » read more
Friday May 11, 2018   
CPUC's Green Book on Customer Choice: Looking for Solutions in All the Wrong Places? On May 3, the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) released its highly anticipated report entitled “Customer Choice: An Evaluation of Regulatory Framework Options for an Evolving Electricity Market.”  Dubbed the "Green Book," the draft report contains an in depth discussion of the issues faced by California as it simultaneously grapples with (1) the transformation of its energy stock reflecting its RPS and decarbonization targets and (2) increasing customer load migration to non-utility suppliers via customer choice.  The Green Book is the culmination of a year-long, multi-agency proceeding, dubbed the California Customer Choice Project.   CPUC Green Book staff have ... » read more
Thursday May 10, 2018   
All eyes were on Alberta at the beginning of April as prices soared into the triple digits. The jump in prices was a result of several factors acting in synergy to push AESO to its limits. Not only were temperatures more than 20 degrees below average, but spring had officially begun with baseload generating units coming offline for maintenance. Both Shepard (890 MW) and Genesee #2 (400 MW) were down for maintenance causing the grid to be 1.3 GWa shorter. Wind also fell below average during the period which pushed the grid closer to the edge, and the reduction in imports from Saskatchewan was the final straw as Alberta’s neighbor didn’t have any excess energy to send over. The marginal megawatt shifted over to BC, putting said imports on the margin. Figure 1 | Calgary ... » read more
Wednesday May 9, 2018   
Over the years, the Pacific Northwest entities in the power sector have figured out how to best keep the wind in the region from being curtailed.  Some of this is tied to moving power from the Pacific Northwest up into Canada while two other elements have direct ties to turning off thermal generation or reducing the output from the lone nuclear facility known as Columbia Generating station.  The final piece of the puzzle goes into the hydro system and how system operators handle the spill at each facility.  This becomes tricky as fish spill season is in play and the Total Dissolved Gas (TDG) levels are being monitored closely.   Figure 1 | Total Dissolved Gas (TDG) Levels - Daily The table in Figure 1 illustrates the daily TDG levels at key dams along the Lower ... » read more
Tuesday May 8, 2018   
As we start to work out way through the work week, it is sometimes nice to see what is going on in the real-time market as wind generation can wreak havoc depending on if it is coming in above/below the expected forecast.  In previous newsletters, we have discussed the increased wind capacity throughout the Lower 48, specifically SPP and ERCOT.  In a newsletter article, we detailed how curtailments played out at the end of April and early part of May as well. Figure 1 | Year Wind Cumulative Max Generation - SPP and ERCOT The top pane is SPP's cumulative yearly max generation output on the grid while the bottom pane represents ERCOT.  If you look at SPP, the last two years are identical as there was a big uptick in December 2017 as a new transmission line was in play that ... » read more
Monday May 7, 2018   
Temperatures out west are warming up this week.  While you can't see it in Figure 1, last week was quite mild in the region, with normal temperatures spanning from the Pacific Northwest (PNW) down through California, and over to the Desert Southwest (DSW) and up to the Rockies.  Moving forward the entire region for the better part of the next two weeks, barring a couple day cool down in the PNW, is going to be above to much above normal.  The two interesting items to note with such a ridging pattern is with regards to wind generating and load.  For the most part, when ridges like this set up, the wind output is generally quite low.  For most parts of the WECC, wind output and warmth do not generally go together.  Towards the middle of this week the PNW ... » read more
Friday May 4, 2018   
Over the years, the Pacific Northwest hydro circumstances leave Bonneville's system operators no choice but to move the regulation up reserves off the Lower Columbia River and up to Chief Jo Dam.  The reasons for this are plentiful, with the main reason tied to the Total Dissolved Gas (TDG) levels are running near the top of the range.  If the operators  spill any more at any of the facilities, it would jeopardize the fish in the river.  Figure 1 | Total Dissolved Gas Levels - Past Three Days Figure 1 shows the last three days of Total Dissolved Gas levels at key dams on the river system.  The dams with red coloration are facilities that are over the upper limit bounds of gas on the river.  The black coloration are within 3% of the yellow colored ... » read more
Thursday May 3, 2018   
Downtown Minneapolis is filled with enclosed walkways connecting the many skyscrapers while the University of Minnesota East Campus has an underground tunnel system connecting the old historical buildings throughout Northrop Mall. Figure 1 | Downtown Minneapolis Skywalk   The reason is simple, it is to protect the individuals living/visiting the vibrant city or university from the elements Mother Nature brings to the region such blistering cold weather or massive gusts of wind that rip through the streets or around the buildings.  A little further south and east, there is a city that sits on Lake Michigan that is know as the 'Windy City', yes it is Chicago.  If you have ever walked along Lake Shore Drive on a winter/spring day, the gust of wind off the lake can be so ... » read more
Wednesday May 2, 2018   
After an absolutely brutal April we are starting to see some serious warmth on the horizon as we enter May.  While the current forecast is trending well above normal, May is typically the month which sees the largest shift between heating degree days (HDDs) and cooling degree days (CDDs).  Below in Figure 1 we have charted normal HDDs and CDDs (weighted) for the US as May progresses from start to finish.  Here we can see a gradual transition, as CDDs overtake HDDs just after mid-month.  Figure 1 | ConUS Daily Normal HDD vs CDDs - May As mentioned above, this season is not expected to have a smooth transition, with the majority of the country going from well below to well above normal temperatures in less than a week's time, per Figure 2.  The low pressure ... » read more
Tuesday May 1, 2018   
The 1973 title fight covered by Howard Cosell is more known for the color commentary than it is for the quality of the boxing. An undefeated champion Joe Frazier took on a younger, stronger, and undefeated George Foreman in what was billed for months as the fight of the century. In the end, it was not much of a contest. Big George had his way with Smokin Joe and the fight was called within two rounds. You wouldn't know it by the way the fight has been portrayed in history. It is often on the short list for greatest sporting moments despite the quick work that the challenger made of the champion.  The natural gas basis markets have been anticipating the the battle for May AECO for more than six months. Back in the fall, Nova Gas Transmission posted a preliminary outage schedule for ... » read more
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