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."

Follow Power Engineering International on Twitter




Editor's Picks

Johan Sandberg

Securing the future of offshore wind: steps to reducing the cost of energy

Offshore wind as a source of energy is still unknown in many parts of the world. In other parts it is still a distant drea...

IEA says energy system stresses cannot be ignored

The world’s policymakers must not lose sight of the long-term signs of stress that are emerging in the global energy syste...
Georg Oppermann of EON

E.ON points to 'relative' health despite disappointing results

Germany’s biggest utility has recorded a 25 per cent drop in its profit for the first nine months of 2014. However a spoke...
Sigmar Gabriel

German government to step in on Vattenfall sale

A document has emerged, indicating Germany’s intention to persuade Swedish utility Vattenfall not to sell its lignite powe...
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán

Hungarian government says nuclear plant should be above politics

An official from the Hungarian government says that the development of a significant power plant for the country should be...

PEI Magazine Issues



>> Current Issue           >> Past Issues

Latest Wire News

Landmark Settlement Protects Colorado Roan Plateau

Landmark Settlement Protects Colorado Roan Plateau

BeneVir Biopharm, Inc. Announces Investment From HC2's Subsidiary Pansend, LLC

BeneVir Biopharm, Inc. Announces Investment From HC2's Subsidiary Pansend, LLC

Eos Petro Announces Extension of Tender Offer for Any and All Outstanding Shares of Dune Energy

Eos Petro Announces Extension of Tender Offer for Any and All Outstanding Shares of Dune Ene...

Eureka Hunter Pipeline Announces Expansion of Its Senior Secured Revolving Credit Facility

Eureka Hunter Pipeline Announces Expansion of Its Senior Secured Revolving Credit Facility

Cardinal Resources Moving Forward in West Africa

Cardinal Resources Moving Forward in West Africa


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 ...

Buyers Guide Companies

Huggenberger AG

AVC Specialists Inc

POWERCON 900 electrostatic precipitator voltage controllers, RAPPERCON 9...

Standardkessel-Baumgarte Group

Founded more than 80 years ago, Standardkessel and Baumgarte are today a...

URS

URS plans, designs, engineers, constructs, retrofits, and maintains powe...

Mid America Engine Inc

Mid-America Engine is a distributor and reseller of new and used, diesel...

Moisttech

Dynamic Systems Inc

Barcode Tracking Includes: > Equipment & Tool > Inventory > ID Badge Sys...

EPG Enginuity Portable Grid

Enginuity Portable Grid (EPG) designs and manufactures unique rental gra...

M+M Turbinen-Technik GmbH

M+M Turbinen-Technik designs and manufactures steam turbines and package...

Paharpur USA

Manufactures water cooling towers, air cooled heat exchangers (fin fan c...

Buyers Guide Products

Spare parts manufacturing / Re-engineering / CNC / CMM / Machining / workshop service

CMM/laser scanning technology (workshop, r...

Steam turbine maintenance / overhaul / (blade) repair / outage management

Outage delivery/managementOn-site inspecti...

Gas turbine maintenance / overhaul / (blade) repair / outage management

Outage delivery/managementProject manageme...

Hydro turbine maintenance / repair / overhaul / rebuild service

Outage support in workshop/on-site Site i...

Inspection service (Nondestructive testing and evaluation)

Life time evaluationPhased array /Ultrason...

Transformer Oil Moisture Measurement Instruments

Vaisala offers a wide variety of online tr...

DPT145 Multiparameter Transmitter for SF6 Gas

DPT145 is a unique innovation that enables...

SNCR - NOxOUT and HERT

25-50% NOx reduction - Urea-based Customiz...

TIFI Targeted In-Furnace Injection

Improve Fuel Flexibility - Reduce Slagging...

ASCR Advanced SCR

80% + NOx Reduction - Lower Capital and Op...

Power Engineering International

Whitepapers

Understanding Moisture Dynamics in Power Transformers

In this webinar recording "Moisture Dynamics in Power Transformers" (held originally in September 23, 2014) you will have a chance to learn about the phenomena and its importance to your ...

How to lower your total cost of ownership on DC Control Power

In this whitepaper, we look at implementing battery management solutions and how smart battery management effectively lowers the total cost of DC Control power systems and the risk of their failure...

Portfolio Optimization by PLEXOS

To achieve Portfolio Optimization, PLEXOS performs the Security Constrained Unit Commitment and Economic Dispatch using Mixed Integer Programming (MIP) to minimize a cost function subject to all op...

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

View more Job Listings >>