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Monday Mar 18, 2019   
On a sunny Saturday morning, the soccer field was jammed packed with enthusiasm from both the players and parents as they did not have to bundle up in their winter gear just to step on the turf fields to play or watch.  In fact, if you forget to grab your sunglasses, the eye squinting became somewhat annoying as it was hard to look directly into this thing called the sun.  Once the matches ended (around noon), it was time to drive home and as we turned the corner onto Skidmore street, you could see several fire trucks with their sirens flashing and the road blocked off.  This brought back the images of a couple of weeks ago when on a crisp Sunday morning, our neighbor's house down the street caught fire and lit up like a torch.  By the time the fire department arrived ... » read more
Friday Mar 15, 2019   
With only a half of the month left in March 2019, the winter season is coming to an end and the summer strip is right around the corner.  This not only means there is a hopeful transition between the colder weather and the spring-like temperatures that gets everyone excited for the actual summer period between July and September.  If you recall, last year this transition was put on hold as the month of April saw well below normal temperatures and a precipitation pattern that warranted plenty of snow across the country.  I remember it vividly as a friend of mine is a true baseball fan who looks forward to opening day across the league. There were several cities/teams that had to cancel their opening day games as snow covered both the infield and outfield.  If the games ... » read more
Thursday Mar 14, 2019   
A string of nuclear retirements has swept the East Coast as efficient natural gas facilities continue to outperform nuclear generation on a cost basis. However, many of these generators were able to escape judgment with policies put into place that would keep the units running. Both New York and Illinois passed a Zero Emission Credit (ZEC) that essentially guaranteed the facilities would meet their break even requirement. Connecticut and New Jersey followed suit by also passing subsidies in their own respective states. To subsidize or not to subsidize seems to be the question in Pennsylvania now with the impending retirement of the Three Mile Island Nuclear facility. Figure 1 | The Nuclear Fleet in Question The latest proposal is to add nuclear generators to the Alternative Energy ... » read more
Wednesday Mar 13, 2019   
During the week, the alarm clocks are set for my two teenage children as school is on the docket.  The initial ringtone is heard but there is no movement which then leads to the first snooze alert to make the same noise only to get turned off quickly.  After a couple more snooze alerts, they usually shift their bodies around to where they are actually upright in their beds.  A few minutes pass before their feet finally hit the floor and the ruckus of getting ready for the 'hectic' day of learning (as they tell me) is in full swing.  What gets me sometimes is  there are days when they actually figure out how to get dressed, crawl back into bed and find time to watch some video on YouTube or play some mindless game. Figure 1 | Daylight Saving - Spring ... » read more
Tuesday Mar 12, 2019   
The seasonal nuclear outage season is once again upon us. Over the past two weeks total outages have climbed from 5 to 15 GWa as per the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as plants are taken off the grid for refuel. The refuel operations typically peak at the beginning of May. This year we expect the total to jump close to 20 GWa. As net load recedes and nuclear outages increase there will be a greater propensity of natural gas generation in the dispatch across the Lower 48. The outages typically last five weeks and are staggered by power control area to minimize impact to the grid. The fleet should be back at full capacity prior to the start of the peak cooling months of the summer.   Figure 1 | NRC Nuclear Outage Total for 2015 - 2019 As coal retirements continue to accumulate ... » read more
Monday Mar 11, 2019   
The month of February was quite cold across the entire country with the Midwest, Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest getting hit the hardest. Whenever I called my parents in WI, it seemed to be never ending; the snow, cold temperatures and wind.  It made me recall some childhood memories of always going to the store to stock on food in case it got bad enough to where we had to be in our house for days.  My father would always remind us to make sure we got ice cream as it was a staple in his childhood on the cold winter days growing up in North Dakota. It was not until my college days when the university was shut down for the first time in decades due to a massive snowstorm followed by extreme cold conditions.  I remember walking into the store and telling my friend ... » read more
Friday Mar 8, 2019   
A short issue paper recently released by CAISO on market enhancements being considered for energy storage and distributed energy resources noted that, unlike most dispatch-able resources on the CAISO grid, Nongenerator Resources (NGR) storage systems are not currently subject to restrictions from CAISO's local market power mitigation (LMPM) rules.  CAISO signals in the paper its intent to do so it is Storage/DR Phase IV Initiative. No timeline has yet been released. Some of you are asking, what’s LMPM?  And, others are asking, how have battery storage resources lasted this long in the market without LMPM?  LMPM is a key feature of all centralized power markets to ensure competitive price outcomes, even on parts of the grid that are subject to acute transmission ... » read more
Thursday Mar 7, 2019   
A heavy snowstorm passed through the Northeast to start the week dumping snow across the region. In preparation, school was canceled or delayed opening for districts from West Virginia to Maine. The storm was strong enough to knock down power lines resulting in outages concentrated in New England. We can see the resulting aftermath for Randolf, MA in Figure 1 as a heavy layer of snow covered the entire street. Adding insult to injury, a high pressure system dropped in from Canada causing temperatures to fall significantly below normal. These cold temperatures had the largest repercussions on the power prices throughout the region causing less efficient generation to be brought online. However, we appear to be on the home stretch with temperatures expected to warm up for the over the next ... » read more
Wednesday Mar 6, 2019   
It is hard to believe that over a year ago, the ERCOT grid was losing a pretty big sector of its coal fleet while colder temperatures ran rampant during the month of January and early February 2018.  This led to the cash market volatility as well as the big push upward on the summer implied heat rate curve as many did not know what was going to happen.  As we moved through the summer months, all hands were on deck helping keep the market well supplied as temperatures were above normal and driving the ERCOT load higher.  We saw some price spikes but nothing like the expectations of what was going to happen back in later winter/early spring.  This was due to the fact that Mother Nature delivered the ERCOT footprint with plenty of wind powered generation.  In fact ... » read more
Tuesday Mar 5, 2019   
After experiencing very warm weather last summer the Lower 48 storage complex only accumulated 3.2 TCF of in ground supply. That deficit was highlighted by the EIA South Central region which was entering into the heating season at a 5 year low of only 949 BCF. That was almost 400 BCF below full causing concerns that the region would suffer from a shortfall in supply if it experienced a colder than normal winter. It didn’t take long for the Gulf to get its first below normal shot of the year and the market reacted by running the prompt contract from $3.18 to $4.84 in a matter of two weeks. The price reaction caught the whole market off guard. Economics took over forcing the coal generation across the country to re-enter the dispatch stack shaving almost 3 BCF from the balancing. This ... » read more
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