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Friday Feb 8, 2019   
After watching the commercials during the Super Bowl last weekend, I could not get the robot one out of my head as it tied into the theme of smart technology we touched on a couple of weeks ago.  At some point in our kids lifetime if not our own, the idea of robots and gadgets doing everything for you makes a lot of sense as you get consistency along with reliability in whatever needs to get done.  With technology comes massive amounts of data that can be analyzed by us as individuals or others trying to figure out the human behavior or better yet the tendencies of things such as supply & demand in the energy sector.   This brings me to what was hanging on my door when I got home, it was a brochure that was colorful and stated, "Meet Your NEW Smart Meter".  ... » read more
Thursday Feb 7, 2019   
Over the course of last year we saw a huge natural gas combined cycle buildout across the ConUS. Many of these facilities were built throughout the Marcellus shale region in order to take advantage of the cheap gas locally. However, the additions have begun to slow down with less than half the nameplate capacity expected for 2019. While the Marcellus buildout hasn’t quite halted, just under 2 GWs of the new builds are located within the PJM footprint. Approximately 1.4 GWs are being built in Pennsylvania near the heart of the new gas revolution. However, the geographic location appears to be more diverse with large facilities popping up in Florida and Louisiana. The additions to these two states alone comprise nearly half of the planned combined cycle additions. Figure 1 | Natural ... » read more
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
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