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Monday Sep 19, 2022   
Demand in California hit record levels this September. EnergyGPS covered this heat event extensively, including a report released right after the event on the role batteries played. The strong showing from batteries was the saving grace for CAISO during the evening ramp. With their grid heavily relying on intermittent renewables, CAISO depends on batteries to meet demand during busy hours when the sun has set. As the renewable goals of the state intensify at the same time load expands with hotter weather and structural growth, the importance of the growing battery fleet is only increasing. Read on for a sneak peak of 'CAISO Battery Performance During High Price Event(s)’, where we looked at how batteries performed during the high-stakes test of the heat event and discussed the ... » read more
Friday Sep 16, 2022   
Game On! Long-time readers of this blog may have noticed that I haven’t written about the annual Aluminum Man competition in a couple of years. Aluminum Man is a decathlon of leisure sports held once per year somewhere in Oregon. Yours truly, Tim Belden, is the Aluminum Man Commissioner (yes, a capital “C”). Our last competition was in June 2019. COVID kept us off the playing field in 2020 and 2021. It felt great to get back in the game again. The only energy-related content in this blog will be the names and scores of four people from “the biz” who participated in the competition. I’ll give a rundown of the games and results. This year’s event was held in Portland on September 10th. Let’s start with the basics. The event is called ... » read more
Thursday Sep 15, 2022   
SPP is in for a wild ride over the next few days as the wind generation numbers are substantially higher than what the grid has seen over the past couple of months.  To give you a perspective of the magnitude of change we are talking about, the first couple of weeks of September 2022 have averaged roughly 4.3 GW across the 24-hour daily strip whereas the current level just topped double digits with a pathway to just over 19.0 GWa for the same 24-hour period.  Such a move cannot be compensated by an uptick in the overall demand thus we are looking at lower net load numbers as we move through the weekend and into early next week. Figure 1 | SPP Net Load Daily Averages – Year on Year Comparison The graph above illustrates the change that is occurring as the lines represent ... » read more
Wednesday Sep 14, 2022   
The phrase ‘Wild, Wild West’ conjures up images of gunslinging cowboys and bustling saloons, but in this case, ‘Wild, Wild West’ refers to the events in the natural gas and power markets covered in our monthly report on the western side of the continent. The background is the same with climate change creating arid conditions where tumble weeds blow across dried up lake beds, but our cast of characters is a little different. Rather than a ragtag team of men on horses, we looked at the CAISO, the Desert Southwest, the Pacific Northwest and more. In this blog, we’ll be focusing on the wild (Pacific North)west, but check out the monthly, titled ‘Wild, Wild West’, to read about the rest of the characters. Figure 1 | Wild, Wild West The Pacific ... » read more
Tuesday Sep 13, 2022   
There is only seven weeks left to the end of the injection season providing little time for many storage caverns across the Lower 48 to make up ground on their year on year deficit. While most of the attention is devoted to the South Central caverns, particularly the salt storage inventory, the issue is also present in the Midwest and East regions. According to the last EIA inventory report the combined Midwest and East storage levels are 122 BCF behind last year and a combined .7 TCF from capacity. But breaking down the individual caverns in each are tells a better story on where the deficits are going prior to the start of winter. Looking at DTI and TCO caverns, which are the largest cavern systems in the East region, suggests the deficits will continue to expand.  Figure 1 | ... » read more
Monday Sep 12, 2022   
The big sigh you heard over the weekend came from the CAISO system operators as the grid finally saw a break in the overall heat that smothered the state all last week.  It was a time when the system alert process did not have to send out any emergency notices with a numeric number that when increasing indicates the CAISO is one step closer to resorting to rolling blackouts as the only solution left in the handbook. Figure 1 | Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) Notice The good news is that CAISO was able to avert the rolling blackouts by turning on every thermal generating unit at its disposal within the LA Basin, up through the middle of the grid (Kern) and that of PGAE.  These units needed to be running during the middle of the day to make sure there was enough power for the ... » read more
Friday Sep 9, 2022   
This past Tuesday, September 6, California broke its all-time demand records when it peaked above 51 GW in the early evening. According to the CAISO’s peak load history going back to 1998, load has only ever broken 50 GW twice, once in 2006 and again in 2017. Even in 2020, the maximum observed load was only around 47 GW. Figure 1 | CAISO Forecast, DA, and RT Load, 9/4/22 – 9/8/22 The record-breaking demand on the 6th was immediately followed by loads on the 7th that would have at least come close to the record (and maybe set it) if not for the bar set by the 6th, and at the time of this writing demand on the 8th is still climbing. Figure 2 | DAM and RTM Prices at NP15 and SP15, 9/4/22 – 9/8/22   As demand has escalated, so have prices. The graph above shows NP15 ... » read more
Thursday Sep 8, 2022   
Even after a sharp drop of inflows into the US portion of the river system over the latter half of August, the Pacific Northwest proved it has at least one more rally in it this summer.  The PNW hydro system has responded in a big way to the current heat wave blanketing the West producing record-breaking temperatures in California over the last several days.  As heat rates in SP15 and NP15 yesterday reached 28.8 and 36.4, respectively, calling every available thermal unit in the Sunshine State into action and lingering heat in the Northwest left the region needing every available MW as well, the hydro system sprang into action.  It reversed the course that had heavy load generation falling from 13 GW on the 1st of September to below 10 GW last Saturday.  The figure ... » read more
Wednesday Sep 7, 2022   
As California prepared for tight grid conditions over Labor Day weekend, the state legislature was hard at work attempting to preserve an important source of supply. The Diablo Canyon nuclear plant was set to retire completely by 2025 with the first unit retiring in 2024. Debates have raged in the past few years over extending the retirement date. Supporters of the plant point to the importance of the plant’s 2,250 megawatts in meeting the state’s ambitious clean energy goals, as well as maintaining grid reliability during times of high demand like this week. Opponents ask important question regarding safety during earthquakes and disposal of nuclear waste. Last week, the California Senate voted to extend the life of the plant for another five years. Figure 1 | Diablo Canyon ... » read more
Tuesday Sep 6, 2022   
News headlines across the country are noting the current power grid issues in California as a heat wave descends upon the state. The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) has sent out several notices depicting the resource shortfall for yesterday and today's delivery. Record breaking temperatures of over 110 degrees in the Bay Area have brought the peak hour demand for today up to 51 GWa. That is three GWa higher than yesterday indicating the grid will be short 2 GWa over the evening peak to meet demand obligations. Under that balancing scenario CAISO would have to utilize demand response as well as load shedding to avoid a grid catastrophe. This is a precarious moment for the entire West as any disruption to generation or transmission is likely to trigger rotating black ... » read more
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