CHRISTMAS GIFT: Solar Shined While Gas Froze Up Again

On January 9, 2023, reporter Anya Litvak wrote about the latest energy crisis during brutal winter weather over the Christmas weekend:

A perfect (winter) storm brings lessons for gas producers and the electric grid

The brutal, unrelenting cold that lasted for several days over the Christmas holiday froze off a sizable portion of Appalachia’s ample gas production, cutting off supply to power plants when they needed it most. Gas transmission pipelines said the gas they were promised simply didn’t show up. On the electric grid that connects Pennsylvania to 12 other states, at one point almost 25% of the capacity on the system either didn’t start up or broke while operating, leaving coal and petroleum-fired units to pick up the slack.

Anya Litvak | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | January 9, 2023

“We had a mixture of outages among thermal units (gas, coal, nuclear), including units that failed to operate or units that couldn’t get fuel because of production or transportation issues.”

Jeff Shields, a spokesman for PJM, a regional transmission organization (RTO) that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of 13 states and the District of Columbia.

What is happening in Texas will keep happening until we take action. When temperature gets cold, the rate of forced outages — (aka) broken — goes way up. When things are serious, in my own view, it’s fine to have a few hours, or tens of hours, where you’re using oil in your gas plant.”

Jay Apt, professor emeritus at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business and Department of Engineering & Public Policy

Between December 22 and 26

Bloomberg’s data shows that between Dec. 22 and 26:
> Ohio lost more than half of its gas production
> West Virginia’s dropped by a quarter and
> Pennsylvania — the largest Appalachian gas producer — sustained a 20% drop accounting for about 4 billion cubic feet a day.
The nation’s largest natural gas firm, Downtown-based EQT Corp., said in an interview on Bloomberg Television that its production fell by 30% during the extreme cold. A deep dive into the February 2021 winter storm… found that “natural gas fuel supply issues caused 27.3% of all generator outages, derates, and failures to start” during the storm that hit Texas hard.

Anya Litvak | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | January 9, 2023
Solar energy production performed as usual during those same 5 days!
Here’s a more complete look from the Tesla Powerwall app:
What about wind energy on the PJM grid?

“During the emergency, wind produced more than double what PJM had planned on.”

‘Fossil Fuel Plants Are an Infirm Resource’

Analysis: Home Utility Price Spikes in 2021-2022
January 27, 2023
– Natural gas therms went up 360-percent over the 24 month period, while kilowatt hours (kWh) went up 162-percent over the 24 month period.

New England grapples with sky-high electricity rates as Ukraine war squeezes gas supply
January 8, 2023
– New England began to face fierce competition from the EU over liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies after Russia starting curtailing pipeline gas to the EU in response to sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Sam Evans-Brown, executive director of Clean Energy New Hampshire, attributed the region’s dependence on LNG to its “decade-long binge of building natural gas fired power plants” without the construction of new pipelines. “We are wedded, we’re handcuffed, to the most expensive fuel in the world,” Evans-Brown told The Hill. The US EIA short-term energy outlook projected that New England customers will pay on average about 26.94 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity this month, rising to 28.95 cents in February. The average American household is expected to pay about 14.47 cents per kilowatt-hour this month and 14.69 cents next month.

Power plants face millions in penalties after failure during Christmas Eve storm
January 7, 2023
– ISO’s data shows that oil was the leading source of fuel for New England’s power plants (34%) during peak demand on Dec. 24th. Maine was hit hardest by outages − approximately 300,000 Central Maine Power customers lost power during the storm and its aftermath. Tens of thousands were without power on Christmas Day. “Several power plants in New England that were scheduled to be online were either offline or reduced, equaling about 2,150 MW, which is roughly 1/8 of the peak electricity demand that day.” Those energy generators now face $39 million in penalties for not performing when needed as per agreement with ISO-New England, which declared a capacity deficiency on Christmas Eve.

Texas regulators investigating Atmos Energy for natural gas service failures during freeze
December 30, 2022
– The issues Atmos Energy customers experienced during last week’s freeze are reigniting concerns from energy experts who say the Legislature did not take enough action to address problems with the electric grid after the deadly February 2021 freeze. Abbott had previously claimed that all the issues with the grid were fixed after the implementation of Senate Bill 3, which passed during the 87th legislative session, despite critics arguing that the legislation didn’t go far enough to ensure the natural gas side of the industry would be prepared for future cold snaps. “…it’s pretty apparent to anybody who’s even halfway paying attention that gas is neither reliable nor dispatchable in extreme winter weather,” said Doug Lewin, an energy expert and president of Stoic Energy.

America’s electrical grid barely escaped a calamity as massive storm exposes a vulnerable natural-gas infrastructure
December 27, 2023
– Supplies of natural gas, the nation’s primary heating and power-generation fuel, plunged the most in more than a decade as wells froze and pipelines failed, sending prices skyrocketing. The nation’s largest power grid was on the brink of forced rotating outages, while power was knocked out at least briefly to some customers in at least 24 states. It’s the kind of event that could become more common — sharp kinks in the jet streams are a hallmark of the changing climate. On Dec. 23, US natural gas production suffered its worst one-day decline in more than a decade, with roughly 10% of supplies wiped out because of wells freeze-offs. Issues were exacerbated by mechanical problems at pipeline infrastructure, including at a compressor station in Ohio operated by Enbridge Inc.’s Texas Eastern Transmission Co., which invoked force majeure on some gas supplies. This is the the third winter in a row that freeze-offs caused natural gas production to drop at least 8 billion cubic feet a day, underscoring the increased frequency of output-disrupting storms. 

Storm cuts U.S. oil, gas, power output, sending prices higher
December 23, 2022
– More than 1.5 million homes and businesses lost power, oil refineries in Texas cut gasoline and diesel production on equipment failures, and heating and power prices surged on the losses. Oil and gas output from North Dakota to Texas suffered freeze-ins, cutting supplies. Sempra Infrastructure’s Cameron LNG plant in Louisiana said weather disrupted its production of liquefied natural gas without providing details. Freeze-ins – in which ice crystals halt oil and gas production – this week trimmed production in North Dakota’s oilfields by 300,000 to 350,000 barrels per day, or a third of normal. In Texas’s Permian oilfield, the freeze led to more gas being withdrawn than was injected.

‘Eyes on Shell’ monthly ZOOM meeting: Wednesday Jan. 11, 2023 at 7:30PM EST