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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
Wednesday Jan 23, 2019   
Growing up as a kid, I remember the commercials for Kellogg's Rice Krispies as the three individuals with their chef's hats on were running around grabbing a bowl, some toasted oats and pouring milk over the top of them to listen to the noise of snap, crackle and pop. Figure 1 | Kellogg's Rice Krispies Cereal This is the same exact noise I tend to hear these days in ERCOT as the wind generation capacity has 'snapped' upwards since the start of November.  The 'crackle' that can be heard is that of the 17.0 GWa across the 24 hour strip eating away at the power load profile to where a weekday net load number is nearly cut in half as the massive wind output rules the grid. Figure 2 | ERCOT Net Load Profile - Hourly The red line represents the power load hourly profile while the light ... » read more
Tuesday Jan 22, 2019   
If you saw the some of the energy news over the weekend you might be surprised to see the front February futures contract off 21 cents to $3.27 as you walk in the door to your office. After all the forecast added quite a few heating degree days to this week and there was a major pipeline rupture. The combination of the two will significantly tighten the natural gas supply demand balancing. But there is one quality of this market that continues to point towards excess supply. It is the shape of the natural gas curve. Throughout much of December the warm conditions allowed salt storage caverns the opportunity to recover much of their year on year inventory deficit. As the weather flipped from warm back to cold, almost all of the price movement was on the last two months of the winter ... » read more
Monday Jan 21, 2019   
As anticipated, Mother Nature is bringing her A game when it comes to dropping colder weather on most of the Lower 48.  The pattern actually started last week along the West Coast as both the Pacific Northwest and California saw below normal temperatures.  From a precipitation standpoint, the two regions were quite different as the former was relatively dry early on while the latter was overcast and wet.  The Portland type weather in Southern California did not bode well for the solar output on the grid as the peak MW dropped down to the 2 GW level for a couple of days. Figure 1 | CAISO Solar Generation - Hourly Profile On the 16th, the cloud cover saw hints of blue sky as the  peak shifted up to the 4.7 GW level before dropping back down to 2.8 GW.  Once ... » read more
Friday Jan 18, 2019   
Close on the heels of year-end "best of" lists, the news media and trend-followers issue their New Year predictions.  According to the tech and energy pundits I regularly follow, 2019 will be the year of the intelligent virtual assistants both for consumer electronics generally (Brian X Chen, “Devices That Will Invade Your Life in 2019 (and What’s Overhyped)”, NY Times, 1/3/2019) and particularly in the green tech space ("Hyped Stories, Underplayed Trends and Breakthroughs of 2018", The Interchange (podcast) 12/20/2018, at 25:00.)  The message conveyed? “Any energy brand that does not have voice-activated strategy in 2019 will be left behind.” Figure 1 | Alexa......l   The numbers that bolster these claims are, indeed, compelling: approximately ... » read more
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