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How 2 Michiganders Saved Xmas in Texas

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WMno57
WMno57 Member Posts: 1,396
edited December 2022 in THE MAIN WALL
This is a true story. The names have not been changed.


On Friday 12/16 Pablo asked Jenny for permission to roll coal. Jenny said OK, but only for a little while.
Pablo is Mr. Pablo Vegas, CEO of ERCOT, Cum Laude Mechanical Engineering grad of The U of Michigan
Jenny is Mrs. Jennifer Granholm, Head of DoE, former Governor of Michigan
https://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/energy/article/ercot-emergency-order-blackouts-17675377.php
article to follow in next post:
I DIY.

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  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 1,396
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    Citing blackout risk, ERCOT gets emergency OK to bypass emission standards
    Shelby Webb
    Dec. 23, 2022
    Updated: Dec. 24, 2022 12:11 a.m.

    ERCOT officials, worried Friday morning that the state's power system was on the brink, asked the U.S. Department of Energy Friday for permission to allow it to bypass some emissions standards for power plants and to authorize "all electric generating units located within the ERCOT interconnection to operate up to their maximum generation output levels" during the freeze this weekend.
    In a letter sent Friday to the federal agency, ERCOT, the state's non-profit grid operator, said demand had unexpectedly reached an all-time winter peak of about 74,000 megawatts Friday morning and that generator failures had started to push the grid to its limits.
    ERCOT CEO Pablo Vegas wrote that there were about 11,000 megawatts of outages among thermal generators that use coal and natural gas as fuel, 4,000 megawatts among wind generators and 1,700 megawatts of solar units that were "outaged or derated" due to the freezing weather. One megawatt is enough to power about 200 homes during severe temperature events.
    "Most of these units are expected to return to service over the next 24 hours. However, if these units do not return to service, or if ERCOT experiences additional generating unit outages, it is possible that ERCOT may need to curtail some amount of firm load this evening, tomorrow morning, or possibly tomorrow evening or Sunday morning, in order to maintain the security of the ERCOT system," Vegas wrote.
    In plainer language, that means if those units stay offline, and if other units trip offline, ERCOT might have ordered local utility providers to rotate power outages Friday evening, Saturday morning, Saturday evening or Sunday morning.
    Vegas also wrote ERCOT had directed natural gas generators with back-up fuel on site to begin using that supply due to "natural gas delivery limitations."
    "Even so, it is possible that these measures may not be sufficient to avoid the need to curtail firm load to ensure system reliability," Vegas wrote.
    ERCOT also asked the feds if some generators could operate outside of federal emissions limits if the grid enters emergency conditions, and the Energy Department authorized the requests on Friday, according to an order issued by the department.
    "ERCOT does not lightly request this authorization," Vegas wrote. "It understands the importance of the environmental permit limits that are at issue. However, in ERCOT’s judgment, the loss of power to homes and local businesses in the areas that may be affected by curtailments presents a far greater risk to public health and safety than the temporary exceedances of those permit limits that would be allowed under the requested order."
    Vegas told federal officials that those exemptions would only be granted if ERCOT reaches its two highest emergency levels, or if the amount of reserves available dipped below 1,750 megawatts and was not expected to recover within 30 minutes. Those levels were not reached Friday, falling only to 4,055 megawatts. ERCOT begins taking reliability actions automatically at 3,000 megawatts and enters its lowest stage of emergency conditions when there are fewer than 2,300 megawatts of reserves and that number is not expected to recover in 30 minutes.
    In approving the ERCOT request Friday evening, the DOE said it would require ERCOT to provide "detailed reporting" and the "completion of a post incident Special Environmental Analysis." In the order, Kathleen Hogan, principal deputy undersecretary for infrastructure at the department, wrote that despite environmental concerns, the loss of power within ERCOT would be more dangerous.
    "Given the emergency nature of the expected load stress, the responsibility of ERCOT to ensure maximum reliability on its system, and the ability of ERCOT to identify and dispatch generation necessary to meet the additional load, I have determined that, under the conditions specified below, additional dispatch of the Specified Resources is necessary to best meet the emergency and serve the public interest," Hogan wrote.
    ERCOT was required to exhaust other options before waiving the emissions standards, her letter said, including issuing a conservation notice and deploying as many reserves as it could, among other actions.
    In a statement, ERCOT officials said the request for emergency powers was taken as a precautionary measure and "would allow generators to promptly respond if conditions warranted."
    "ERCOT has sufficient generation to meet demand. Every available on-demand generation resource is contributing electricity to the grid during this extreme cold weather event," ERCOT officials wrote.
    I DIY.
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 1,396
    edited December 2022
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    Dr. Kathleen "I have determined that" Hogan
    Ph.D. from the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering of the Johns Hopkins University and a B.S. in Chemistry from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania
    "Given the emergency nature of the expected load stress, the responsibility of ERCOT to ensure maximum reliability on its system, and the ability of ERCOT to identify and dispatch generation necessary to meet the additional load, I have determined that, under the conditions specified below, additional dispatch of the Specified Resources is necessary to best meet the emergency and serve the public interest,"
    https://www.energy.gov/person/kathleen-hogan
    Kathleen Hogan is a distinguished national leader in clean energy with a more than twenty year career as a federal executive spanning the US EPA and DOE. She currently serves as the Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Infrastructure at DOE. Prior positions include the Acting Under Secretary for Science and Energy where she helped the Agency launch its Energy Earthshot program and the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency at the DOE. There she oversaw a more than $600 million annual energy efficiency policy, program, and research portfolio and helped pursue national goals in advanced manufacturing, building energy technologies, low income weatherization, appliance and equipment minimum standards, federal energy management, and building energy codes. 
    Earlier, she led an EPA division for more than ten years in the development and implementation of a suite of clean energy policies and programs to cost-effectively address global climate change. There she established a strong track record of addressing complex challenges in the energy and climate arena using voluntary partnership approaches, including leading the ENERGY STAR program to national prominence.
    Kathleen has been recognized throughout her career for her leadership in public service, most recently with a Presidential Rank Award (2015), The Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals Career Achievement Award (2016), and a Secretary of Energy Exceptional Service Award (2018).
    I DIY.
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 1,396
    edited December 2022
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    I hope Pablo, Jenny, and Kathy don't actually send paper letters to each other through the US Mail. Maybe they text and telephone each other to ensure timely communication to keep the lights and heat on in Texas?
    I DIY.
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,906
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    ERCOT CEO Pablo Vegas wrote that there were about 11,000 megawatts of outages among thermal generators that use coal and natural gas as fuel, 4,000 megawatts among wind generators and 1,700 megawatts of solar units
    It’s not enough to just burn coal/gas, you have to have reliable coal and gas. Seems iffy to rely on these intermittent thermal fuel sources  ;)
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,646
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    My question has been ever since the big crisis in TX is why they don't have enough generation to cover demand. Seems they do if ALL the stops are pulled out.....just barely. 
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 1,396
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    They have a summer demand spike on hot days for AC. They also have a winter demand spike on cold days for heat pumps. Winter is hard because power generation sources freeze up and don't work. Days are shorter, so less solar. Travel north and the winter days get even shorter. But hey, full speed ahead on heat pumps for everyone. Something for the rest of us to look forward to. Texas is the canary in the coal mine.
    The colder it gets, the lower the COP on heat pumps. This is why DOE will mandate that heat pumps (along with other appliances) be "Grid Aware".
    Welcome to our dystopian future. Merry Christmas.
    I DIY.
    Sal Santamaura
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,394
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    NG wells have freeze offs Limits gas for both heating and running their peaking generators. A double whammy for a utility not able to handle the cold weather conditions.

    Not much talk about seceding from the union anymore?  Need those federal tax dollars to bail out the flooding and power outages in the lone star state.  

    Probably some relocated Californians having second thoughts sitting in the cold, dark, flooded homes.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    Sal SantamauraPC7060
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 3,676
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    The ones driving the electrification fad aren't the ones sitting in the cold, dark, flooded homes.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,394
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    Thermal generators freeze up in Texas but not up north. This is an economic decision by Texas power producers, not a dystopian future. 

    The new CEO will pull down about 2.4 million this year in salary and bonuses, 250K moving allowance.
    Being a former Ohio utility guy, maybe he can keep the NG flowing in the cold for Texas?
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    Hot_water_fanSal Santamaura
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 1,396
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    Ercot CEO Pablo Vegas was hired 10/3/22. Kudos to him and his team for keeping the lights and heat on.
    Interview of Mr Vegas in the Dallas Morning News from back when he started.
    https://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/2022/10/02/ercots-new-ceo-you-shouldnt-even-have-to-think-about-texas-power-grid/
    Actually a very good read. Much more detailed than the usual click bait news.
    I DIY.
  • Sal Santamaura
    Sal Santamaura Member Posts: 532
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    ratio said:

    ...the electrification fad...

    Not a fad. The way of the future. Those who knock it, rather than embracing it, doom themselves to irrelevancy. Not today, but not too far in the future either.
  • vtfarmer
    vtfarmer Member Posts: 101
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    Thermal generators freeze up in Texas but not up north. This is an economic decision by Texas power producers, not a dystopian future. 

    As mentioned in past threads, my day job is in the bulk power generation industry.

    The problem of poor/no weatherization is somewhat specific to Texas/ERCOT, but the dystopian future of a decades reliable power grid in a first world country becoming unreliable is real and not specific to Texas. From ISO New England (www.iso-ne.com) to NYISO (www.nyiso.com) to PJM (www.pjm.com) to the TVA (www.tva.com) (the ISOs and RTOs that operate the bulk electric grid from Maine to the deep south) we were in various states of emergency (EEA-1, 2, or 3) (see https://www.nerc.com/pa/Stand/Reliability Standards/EOP-011-1.pdf starting at page 11) from Friday afternoon through today. PJM's notices are public, they got to EEA-2: https://emergencyprocedures.pjm.com/ep/pages/dashboard.jsf ISO New England was also hurting but I don't think their operational messages are public so I can't post them here. TVA supplies dozens of smaller utilities across seven states and was in EEA-3 at one point (rolling blackouts). NYISO had a gas issue, pretty much every power plant in the northeast that can run on oil has been switched to oil through the weekend ($$$).

    Like ERCOT, PJM also requested generators which could generate more if allowed to bypass emissions controls submit forecasts of how much more they could generate to get the same exemption that ERCOT sought, and much of the eastern interconnection (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Interconnection) was in a dire state for the past ~48 hours. I was up most of the night Friday night/Saturday morning helping to remotely restart a facility in New Jersey that had tripped at about the third time time PJM deployed 100% of its reserves during the night (a reserves deployment like that usually seldom happens).

    We barely, and I mean just barely avoided a bad situation this weekend and we may not be so lucky next time. I don't think people appreciate how hosed they are if they keep on the energy policy path some are pushing for. I now live in Virginia and enjoy my cheap power (nuclear/gas/coal), typically mild winters, and low maintenance/cheap to operate heat pumps but this past weekend saw me burning both wood stoves in my main house 24/7 and resurrecting the oil fired baseboard system in my inlaws' place, which hadn't run since their heat pump went in in '16. Without knowledge of what was happening on the grid I would have done these things to be more comfortable as the HPs couldn't keep up and were on emergency heat pretty much all night both nights, but I knew that we were potentially minutes away from a rolling blackout so I wanted to be postured to deal with heating the places with no grid power.

    WMno57WaherSteamBoilerHot_water_fan
  • vtfarmer
    vtfarmer Member Posts: 101
    edited December 2022
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    My post was perhaps too political; my point is that the electric grid is becoming increasingly strained during cold, dark times of the year and having recently moved to a place where most people heat with heat pumps with electric resistance backup I experienced that setup not work so well during this recent cold snap. I wanted to relate that experience in the context of the most excellent home heating discussion forum on the Internet.

    I was glad to have wood stoves and vented LP fire places in my own dwelling (which heat with minimal electrical inputs only for fans), and that relatives who were not warm in their home once the heat pump could not keep up still had an oil/hydronic system which was able to provide superior comfort and could, if needed, have been run on a small generator if the grid had gone down.
    SteamBoiler
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,906
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    Thanks @vtfarmer! The easy, non-political solution is to pair heat pumps with propane/oil backup furnaces, which is low cost and low pollution. Americans wants AC so let’s give them exactly that, just with a reversing valve. 
    hot_rodSal Santamauralkstdl