Sunday, January 7, 2018

Vermont, "Hot Air," and Puerto Rico

Grid prices in the Northeast.  Running about 37c per kWh at 1 p.m.
You can double click to enlarge the graphics.
Graphics are screen shots from

Vermont remains in the deep freeze. It was minus 5 here when I wrote this at 8 p.m. Saturday, and it was about zero at 1 p.m. Saturday when I took these screen shots.

The weather is actually colder now, Sunday morning.  It is minus 15 at 9 a.m. Fuel oil is supplying 37% of the grid now, and the price is around $300/MWh.  I'm going to use the screen shots I took yesterday, because things have not changed very much.  As usual, all charts are from the ISO-NE  ISOExpress web page.

On Saturday, fuel oil supplied over 30% of the grid electricity, and the price of power was bouncing around like crazy between $200 and $400 per MWh (five minute LMP graph at left).

Fuel mix (34% oil) at lower right,
5 minute LMP graph at left totally schizoid:
20 cents to 40 cents per kWh and back, rapidly

Meanwhile, with significant wind chill out there, wind was about half of renewables, and renewables are 11% of the grid, so wind was contributing about 5% of the power. (Same today, Sunday, but wind is about 40% instead of 50% of renewables.)

Wind is about half of the renewables now

Meanwhile, the fuel supply for New England has been getting a bit dicey. (It seems to be hanging in there, for which I am grateful.) According to an article in Reuters, Frigid weather sends heating prices soaring as energy usage spikes, spot gas prices in New England soared to a record-breaking $82.75/mmBTU before falling back to a more normal $3.80/mmBTU. More tankers are heading to the U.S. These tankers are not on a mission of mercy. Right now, the East Coast is the most high-priced market in the world for oil. The tankers can get their best prices, right here.

Coast Guard icebreakers have been used (probably still being used)  to keep open the ports of Boston, New York and Philadelphia.  A Coast Guard icebreaker was even needed on the Hudson River. Overall, the grid is working okay and I am not very worried.

But I must say:
I appreciate the Coast Guard!

Hot Air and Puerto Rico

Meanwhile, some of my earlier posts got some play in bigger media.  Jazz Shaw is a major contributor to the widely read blog Hot Air. On Thursday, Shaw wrote New England Wanted to Use All Renewable Energy...Then It Got Cold. This is a very well-referenced and well-written post.  Shaw quotes my blog extensively, and he also puts the issues in New England together with Rick Perry's aim of rewarding reliable power plants.

I should also mention that Hot Air is a very widely-read blog. As soon as the Hot Air post referencing my blog appeared, email after email arrived: "Hey Meredith, you were on Hot Air!  Great going!" It was fun.

Most of these emails came from my friends, but one note was from someone new to me.  A man who writes the Dark Island Puerto Rico blog wrote to say that Vermont and Puerto Rico seemed to be having some similarities.  He also wrote a blog post about this, also: Weather and Wind Problems.

I have been enjoying reading his blog. Puerto Rico has pretty much disappeared from the main stream news, but there are still huge areas without power. I find it very interesting to hear from a person who is really there, thoughtful and critical of about the recovery effort.  He has posts on the fate of wind farms, the useful possibility of battery back up for solar (but you still need a source of reliable power), how small modular reactors could be used, how cogeneration could be a robust future for Puerto Rico.  I recommend his blog

They say there it is "an ill wind that blows nobody any good," which means that even bad situations can have some good in them.  The situation on the grid isn't great, to put it mildly.  However, my recent blog posts have introduced me to two new blogs: Hot Air and DarkIslandPR.  That is some good, and I appreciate it.

(Note to my readers: the Hot Air blog is mostly political, and DarkIslandPR is mostly about energy.  I don't want people to get the impression that I think the two blogs are very similar: they aren't. )

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