Unlike 2001, California begins New Year awash in electric power

HOUSTON, Dec. 31 -- In a reversal of fortune, the California Independent System Operator is awash in power, compared to last winter's bleak periods of shortages.

This time last year, the state's grid operator struggled hour by hour to keep California lights burning as the state sank into an electricity crisis riddled with shortages, spiking prices, and bankrupt or near bankrupt utilities.

Last winter, chief ISO scheduler Tracey Bibb was desperate to find 4,000-6,000 Mw on an hourly basis to meet state electricity demand.

"This year, I only have to come up with a couple of hundred megawatts in real time," Bibb said. "The key is we have excess generation with few power plant outages and electricity imports are running ahead."

The California ISO says new power plants and fewer outages, more imports, and long-term contracts have helped correct the nation's most dysfunctional energy market.

Gregg Fishman, spokesman for the California ISO, said, "Last winter's crisis resulted from a coincidence of factors, a bad hydroelectric [generation] year, huge economic demand for electricity, no new power plants on line, and a natural gas price spike. Take away one of those factors and the crisis would have been much less acute."

Electricity producers in neighboring states are now eager to sell to California. Last winter, the US Energy Secretary had to force them to sell the state power.

Fishman said, "We see a lot of power being offered into the market now. They have better expectations of getting paid."

Last year the state's utilities were teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and had stopped paying for power. The state intervened and began buying electricity for the utilities. But the legislature did not authorize the expenditures until much later, creating doubts about payment and making generators reluctant to sell power.

This winter, gas prices are 50% lower, allowing marginally efficient generators to add to electricity supplies. More generation has come on line too: California added 2,231 Mw of capacity this year, according to ISO documents.

However, imports give the ISO's Bibb the most comfort. California historically has relied on its neighbors to help it through times of peak demand.

"We are getting 1,000-2,000 Mw more an hour than we got last year in imports," said Bibb. "Even better, it's showing up in the day-ahead market instead of the real-time market."

The end of the drought in the Pacific Northwest has helped greatly. Ed Mosey, spokesman for the Bonneville Power Administration, a federal power agency that controls about 11,000 Mw of mostly hydroelectric power in the Pacific Northwest, said, "The drought is over. We have an average or better snow pack throughout the Cascades."

During California's shortages a year ago, electricity from the Northwest was scarce too. This winter, partly because of lower regional demand, the Pacific Northwest has excess power to send to California.

Bibb said demand isn't falling in California. Peak demand in January 2002 is forecast to be 63 Mw higher than last year.

"There's just a lot of generation on line this year," he said. "Last year we faced 10,000-14,000 Mw offline a day. This year not more than 7,000 Mw is offline."

Recommend this article Recommend this article () Yo recommended this article Yo recommended this article ()
Follow Power Engineering International on Twitter

Editor's Picks

Iain Conn

Iain Conn appointed Centrica chief executive

Centrica has officially appointed Iain Conn as CEO. Mr Conn will leave his role as chief executive of BP, downstream, BP's...
Command and Control Centre

Combating the emerging cyber threat to power infrastructure

Earlier this month Power Engineering International reported on the news of the detection of a cybercrime operation that po...

White Rose CCS is biggest winner in EC €1bn funding

The European Commission has awarded funding worth a total of €1bn ($1.3bn) to 19 clean energy projects, with the biggest w...

Asia to outpace Europe in renewables investment says BNEF

The Asia-Pacific region will spend $3.6 trillion between now and 2030 to meet its power demands, and two thirds of that su...
Drax

Analysis demonstrates greater diversity in UK power market

The latest independent analysis of the UK electricity market shows that while coal has retained its top share of the power...

PEI Magazine Issues



>> Current Issue           >> Past Issues

Latest Wire News

Intergraph(R) CADWorx(R), CAESAR II(R) and SmartPlant(R) Help Reduce Richard Design Services Engineering Hours by One Third on Louisiana Diesel Facility

Intergraph(R) CADWorx(R), CAESAR II(R) and SmartPlant(R) Help Reduce Richard Design Services...

Anadarko Announces Second-Quarter 2014 Results

Anadarko Announces Second-Quarter 2014 Results

Ideal Power Inc. to Host Second Quarter 2014 Results Conference Call at 4:30 pm ET on August 13, 2014

Ideal Power Inc. to Host Second Quarter 2014 Results Conference Call at 4:30 pm ET on August...

Rethinking the Ban on EPS

Rethinking the Ban on EPS

Remote Medical International and vRad Support U.S. Military in Afghanistan and Kuwait With Critical Radiology Services

Remote Medical International and vRad Support U.S. Military in Afghanistan and Kuwait With C...

Editorial Guides

How to cut your OPEX

How to cut your OPEX In a constantly evolving electricity market, factors such as over capacity and low coal costs can pu...

Alstom Editorial Guide: Thailand to showcase latest upgrade of Alstom's GT26 in combined-cycle

Read all about Alstom's new advanced GT26 gas turbine in the North Bangkok CCPP expansion project online with the Power En...

PLEXOS® Integrated Energy Model – Leading the Field in Energy Market Modelling

PLEXOS® Integrated Energy Modelling is an advanced software tool that employs the latest mathematical programming methods ...

Power Engineering International

Whitepapers

Evaluating cogeneration for your facility: A look at the potential energy-efficiency, economic and environmental benefits

The energy-efficiency, economic and environmental benefits of cogeneration are the subject of this in-depth white paper. The paper argues that producing electricity and heat/cooling from the same f...

The Effect of Moisture on the Breakdown Voltage of Transformer Oil

Power transformers utilize oil as a heat transfer medium and a dielectric material, together with cellulose. Breakdown voltage (dielectric strength) is one of the most important parameters of trans...

Improving Mission Critical Cooling Systems With More Reliable Level Sensing

The choice of coolant level sensor may seem like an insignificant detail when designing complex machinery such as emergency generators and cranes, but if this sensor fails, the operator has no warn...

Steps Towards a Low Carbon Future: Solutions and Technologies That Will Support the Global Revolution Required

A smart grid is becoming more and more essential as clean energy becomes more dominant. In addition, the demand for electricity is expected to treble the ability to supply it over the next decade. ...

Latest Digital Edition

  Power
  Engineering
  International
Look Inside >
Cover
Current Issue

Article Archives for Power Engineering International Magazine

Latest Energy Jobs