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Thursday Mar 21, 2019   
As I reached for my jacket earlier this week, I quickly checked my phone only to realize that I wouldn’t be needing it as the weather forecast said highs would reach into the 60s. The burden of my heavy jacket was finally lifted from my shoulders with the warm sunny weather managing to stick around. However, the Pacific Northwest appears to be the last region to finally see the seasonal shift. Along the East Coast, temperatures already made their way back to normal earlier this month as the latest cold front dissipated. With the warm spring weather finally on the board, demand for electricity declined giving some leeway to generation. Facilities are now taking this opportunity to perform maintenance with demand likely to remain on the lower end of the spectrum. In PJM, total outages ... » read more
Wednesday Mar 20, 2019   
if you live in Houston, Texas the air quality conversation has been on the forefront of the local news as the burning chemical storage tanks in Deer Park have been burning since Sunday.  The explosion and following fires spread over 8 storage tankers within the first 24 hours. Figure 1 | Chemical Fire in Houston, TX By Tuesday afternoon, the fires were contained to just 4 storage tankers, which meant that the smoke by-product was reduced but still pushing toxic particulates into the air.  The local news continued to state that the air quality was not in harms way but many chemists begged to differ.  The one thing the local agencies had going for it was the air pattern as it kept the smoke anywhere from 5,000 to 6,000 feet in the air instead of down around 400 to 500 ... » read more
Tuesday Mar 19, 2019   
It is that time of the year again. Along with the transition from withdrawal back to injections we will see the energy infrastructure across the continent undergo maintenance and construction activities. During the past three summers, the Algonquin Pipeline which is the largest natural gas artery into New England has seen major cuts in capacity as service gets expanded into the Boston Citygate. This year the maintenance schedule is not nearly as impactful as years past. most of the upstream work has been completed and now the focus moves to the downstream portion. The Algonquin market will not see the price impact we have seen in years past.   Figure 1 | Early Summer Algonquin Pipeline Maintenance Impact   Last year, the Stony Point compressor, which stands at the ... » read more
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
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