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Thursday Nov 16, 2023   
Last week in our Tuesday blog post we wrote about the start of the fall Chum operations on the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest.  This is an operation that takes place each year at the start of November and is designed to support spawning for salmon returning to the lower portions of the Columbia River in their annual run.  The operation itself is focused on maintaining water levels on the Lower Columbia within a given range to make sure fish are able to travel to certain spawning grounds as well as ensure that their eggs are laid in a location that will make it possible for river operations throughout the winter to keep them covered with water.  This season there was some excitement tied to the fall chum operation given the very low flows throughout the hydro system ... » read more
Wednesday Nov 15, 2023   
 As winter approaches, it’s vital that the supply stack is healthy in preparation for increased heating demand. One source of supply is running slightly behind schedule. The start of November usually marks a sharp decline in nuclear outages as regular maintenance wraps up. The first 11 days of the month this year, however, saw an upward trend to nuclear outages. Total US nuclear outages jumped over 18.5 GW this past weekend. That’s 4.2 GW higher than the same day last year and more than 7 GW higher than the same day in 2021. By Tuesday, total outages were down to 14.5 GW. This is still more than 2.4 GW higher than last year and 4.5 GW higher than the year before. Figure 1 | Total Nuclear Plant Outages MW As we reported in a recent blog, this year’s planned fall ... » read more
Tuesday Nov 14, 2023   
Once upon a time, there was this layer of supply that was known as baseload generation that allowed the utilities to gather their thoughts on how to best manage the rest of their supply portfolio to make sure they are balanced to the demand on the grid.  The types of units that had a stronghold on this portion of the supply stack were that of nuclear and coal-fired generators while the latter was utilized to shape things along with the natural gas fleet, the former was old reliable 24 hours of the day unless there was a planned refueling outage or an unplanned situation that brought once of the units down for a period.  There are rare occurrences when a nuclear facility just has bad luck, and the facility is shut down due to the economics surrounding the fix; this was in play ... » read more
Monday Nov 13, 2023   
ERCOT is a market that moved front and center when it comes to its balancing components.  On the demand side there is always conversation about load growth given the economic construct around the state to bring business to the Lone Star State.  We also have population growth as a factor as the movement from West has been well documented since the pandemic.  Both components assist in driving up the power demand hourly profile, which we saw this summer with the heat dome creating a situation where extreme temperatures were in play for individuals and businesses to try and stay cool.  So far this winter, we have not had any extreme cold events to drive up the power demand for heating the same homes that impact the AC demand. Figure 1 | ERCOT Net Load Profile – ... » read more
Friday Nov 10, 2023   
A week ago, I updated my phone to iOS 17. Along with some straightforward quality-of-life features, such as (at last!) the ability to set multiple timers at once, Apple has rolled out a new “Smart Home” widget. The widget, which is simply called “Grid Forecast”, is supposed to keep you informed about the times of day when the electricity generated in your area is cleaner. This would let you, say, charge your electric vehicle during times when more renewable energy is available, or turn off your air conditioner when there’s less. As I understand it, at some point you’ll even be able to set these things up to happen automatically: plug in your electric car whenever it’s convenient for you, and your phone will control when the car charges. I ... » read more
Thursday Nov 9, 2023   
The past month saw the Pacific Northwest rise to the forefront of western power markets in the US yet again.  The circumstances surrounding the Mid-C in October is one of the topics covered in our latest Newsletter Monthly Article, “Charging the Grid”.  The colder weather pattern at the end of October hit the Pacific Northwest front and center. The timing was impeccable given that it was a time that the hydro system was limited when it came to flexibility and the transmission grid had the DC intertie out of service for its planned maintenance while the AC intertie was de-rated as work needed to be completed post-summer and prior to the winter season starting.  The weather pattern was driving up the heating demand via rescom and that of the power profile where ... » read more
Wednesday Nov 8, 2023   
In addition to our Daily CAISO Battery Dashboard, subscribers to our Platinum Plus Renewables package can get deeper insight through our CAISO Monthly Battery dashboard. This dashboard, which comes out on the first of every month, provides a wider breadth of data and allows for identifying patterns and trends across several months and even years. In our most recent article, titled ‘Checking in on the Monthlies’, we examine the most recent monthly dashboard and identify some new trends, as well as check in on some patterns we’ve previously identified. Read on for a sneak peek. The first trend is the continued fall of regulation prices, even with relatively strong gas prices between May 2022 and April 2023. Higher gas prices across those months normally would have resulted ... » read more
Tuesday Nov 7, 2023   
Leaves are falling and Mother Nature is delivering a precipitation pattern that lines up with some of the previous ‘atmospheric river systems’ that pushed through the region two-years ago and last year down in California.  The pattern has mostly been along the I-5 corridor up to this point, but over the last couple of days the pattern jumped over into Central Washington and parts of Western Canada.  This type of weather is helping the system operators manage the Chum Operations, which kicked in at the end of October and will carry over well into November. Figure 1 | Chum Operations and Precipitation Chum operations start with maintaining a tailwater level below Bonneville Dam during this key time of year when spawning season kicks off.  The ‘spawning ... » read more
Monday Nov 6, 2023   
This week is going to be presenting a “V” shaped wind profile along with moderate temperatures across the SPP. The combination of the two will impact the light load block of hours more so than the heavy load. In fact, the impact of the wind and lack of load early in the day exposes the ramping hours as thermal units will need to place their start-up costs into their respective offers.  Figure 1 | SPP Net Load Breakdown – Hourly This played out for Monday as the two hubs saw the light load clear in SPP-South slide down to $5.54 while SPP-North ventured into negative territory (clearing -$2.25).  Over in the heavy load, the two hubs jumped up to the mid $30 level given the circumstances mentioned above. Figure 2 | SPP Day-Ahead/Real-Time Price Settles As we ... » read more
Friday Nov 3, 2023   
The Renewable Monthly Report (September Report), which are apart of the EnerygGPS Platinum Plus eCommerce Package, details how each ERCOT trading hub played out over the course of the last three months in comparison to the previous two years.  The table in Figure 1 lays out the monthly statistics for each pertinent zone and the weighted average price for wind in the North and West regions and solar tied to the Houston trading hub.  Scouring through the data, it is clear that this past August sticks out as the 2023 North hub heat rate value is octupled in comparison to the previous two years. Figure 1 | First Part of Figure 16 From Renewable Monthly Report, September 2023 It’s not possible to point to any one single factor as the driver of the summer scarcity pricing as ... » read more
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