Save America’s Grid!

From CFACT

By David Wojick

It is no secret that America’s electric power grid is becoming unreliable. The secret is whose fault it is. Not knowing who to blame makes it hard to fix.

If I could get a show of hands I bet that almost no one has heard of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation. They are called NERC which rhymes with jerk. They are a private corporation endowed with federal authority to keep America’s lights on. NERC makes and enforces the regulations governing grid reliability in America. The looming threat of numerous blackouts is their fault. They have obviously failed to maintain reliability, which is their specific mission.

The grid is sick and getting sicker.

The reason for this growing unreliability is well established. It is the mad rush to replace reliable coals and nuclear power plants with weather dependent wind and solar power. This simply does not work and we are beginning to pay the price of folly. We must constrain and manage the penetration of renewables to maintain reliability. Given that battery costs are impossibly large, even assuming fantastic cost reductions, powering the grid with wind and solar is itself impossible. Reliability requires sufficient backup generation.

Last spring NERC released a major report warning of likely blackouts across much of America in summer 2022, and for the foreseeable future thereafter. This fall they warned us of possible coming winter blackouts.

My question is, instead of reporting this pending calamity, why is NERC not preventing it? What is not reported, and seems to be little known, is that NERC is a quasi-regulatory federal agency whose mission is to maintain reliability. Clearly NERC is failing.

NERC issues reliability standards which the electric power industry is supposed to follow. These federal standards are supposed to be enforced by NERC’s regional subsidiaries. Clearly this process has not worked or we would not be facing widespread blackouts. Why not?

By way of background, NERC was originally a Council, not a Corporation. It was formed in 1968 as a voluntary industry body after the massive 1960’s Eastern blackout. It became a corporation when it was “federalized” around 2006. It answers to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in the US, but also includes Canada. NERC creates and enforces Reliability Standards with both countries.

Here is NERC’s mission statement: “The vision for the Electric Reliability Organization Enterprise, which is comprised of NERC and the six Regional Entities, is a highly reliable and secure North American bulk power system. Our mission is to assure the effective and efficient reduction of risks to the reliability and security of the grid.​“

This vision is clearly inconsistent with NERC’s warning that widespread blackouts loom large for America.

Here is what NERC says about its Reliability Standards: “NERC’s Standards program ensures the reliability of the bulk power system by developing quality reliability standards in a timely manner that are effective, clear, consistent and technically sound.”

If the NERC standard program supposedly “ensures the reliability” of the grid then clearly their standards are inadequate. NERC simply does not address this massive issue.

Unreliability is reported to already be getting pretty bad. Sustained outages in the U.S. went from less than 12 in 2000 to over 180 in 2020. The average utility customer went from 8 hours of power failure per year in 2013 to 16 in 2020. Since then we have had the disastrous Texas blackout and numerous smaller warnings and losses.

Looking ahead it gets much worse. The Biden Administration’s stated goal is for the electric power system to produce zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2035, a mere 13 years away. That means shutting down all fossil fueled generation, which presently provides more than half of America’s electricity.

Meeting the incredible Biden Federal Plan target is clearly a great threat to reliability. Given that this goal was announced well over a year ago, NERC should already have developed standards to protect reliability during this called for transition. Either that or NERC should say that eliminating fossil fuels in 13 years simply cannot be done reliably. I find no indication that NERC or any of its Regional Entities is even looking at this staggering scenario. The studies I have seen are limited to around 50% renewables and even these are not leading to standards.

Moreover, many utilities are posting generation plans that are clearly unreliable, swapping fossil fueled and nuclear plants for wind and solar with very little of the required storage. NERC should be blowing the whistle on these massively unreliable plans. NERC is clearly failing to meet its mission.

NERC is funded by a tax on utility electric power sales. Thus it is paid by the very entities it regulates, which sounds like a very bad plan. Its rulemaking is also largely done by committees, which are dominated by the regulated utilities. This dependence on the utilities may well explain why NERC has never exposed the recklessly unreliable utility behavior that led to the present precarious grid. One might say that not only is the utility fox in the reliability chicken house, the fox is running and funding it.

There are 93 NERC Reliability Standards. None has anything to do with controlling the adverse impact of renewables upon reliability. Reliability must be restored and maintained. NERC has the authority to develop proposed Reliability Standards to constrain and manage the growth of renewables.

If NERC will not act then FERC has in the past ordered NERC to draft specific Reliability Standards. Awhile back they ordered an entire set of Standards for cyber security. This sort of Order may be just what is needed to constrain the presently reckless transition from reliable fossil fueled generation to intermittent, weather dependent wind and solar power.

Alternatively, if NERC and FERC fail to act then Congress should mandate that they do so. Bills have been introduced in the past directing FERC and NERC to develop specific standards, so this would not be unprecedented.

Save America’s grid!

This article is adapted from my piece “The Price of Folly” in the winter issue of Range Magazine. See http://www.rangemagazine.com/ for the cowboy spirit in all of us.

Author

David Wojick

David Wojick Ph.D. is an independent analyst working at the intersection of science, technology and policy. For origins see http://www.stemed.info/engineer_tackles_confusion.html

For over 100 prior articles for CFACT see

http://www.cfact.org/author/david-wojick-ph-d/

Available for confidential research and consulting.

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thallstd
November 30, 2022 2:37 am

NERC, FERC and Congress should all heed the conclusions of Prof. Simon Michaux’s detailed analysis on what it will take to achieve net zero.

His conclusion:

Over 500k new power plants will be needed (there are less than 50k now) and there are not enough known reserves of required minerals to manufacture a single generation of them: less than 5% available for minerals essential for EV, Solar and Wind deployments. And even if enough reserves are found, depending on the mineral, it would take between 189 and 7000 years to mine them based on 2019 mining rates.

His 1,000 page report can be downloaded at https://tupa.gtk.fi/raportti/arkisto/42_2021.pdf and his 45+ minute summary of it can currently be viewed at 

 or, if YT has taken it down: https://rumble.com/v1kmfmf-assoc-prof-simon-michaux-the-quantity-of-metals-required-to-manufacture-jus.html

Doug S
Reply to  thallstd
November 30, 2022 5:41 am

This is an excellent talk, well worth the time to watch

Bill Toland
Reply to  thallstd
November 30, 2022 5:43 am

I have watched the video of Simon Michaux’s talk and I think that there should be a separate thread devoted to his report. It is pretty obvious that net zero is not going to happen because it is physically impossible.

RickWill
Reply to  Bill Toland
November 30, 2022 1:28 pm

I think that there should be a separate thread devoted to his report.

You will find it back about three weeks ago.

Bill Toland
Reply to  RickWill
November 30, 2022 3:42 pm

I don’t remember reading about it and I can’t find it.

Bill Toland
Reply to  Bill Toland
November 30, 2022 3:45 pm

I’ve now found it. It was three months ago.

David Wojick
Reply to  thallstd
November 30, 2022 7:00 am

True but I am not talking about net zero which is far away. We need constraints now.

thallstd
Reply to  David Wojick
November 30, 2022 8:00 am

True. But one way that might help achieve some constraints is if it becomes commonly known that it is a dead end approach. The powers-that-be won’t care but if enough common folk become aware they may be able to stop this by elections or protests.

RickWill
Reply to  thallstd
November 30, 2022 1:25 pm

it would take between 189 and 7000 years to mine them based on 2019 mining rates.

The time horizon can be reduced by dramatic increase in mining rate. This is why the mining giants are encouraging Nut Zero. Miners are in for a windfall that exceeds the emergence of China.

The only limiting factor to the madness is China’s manufacturing capacity and access to coal reserves. It also relies on them continuing to accept the debt of the developed nations.

thallstd
Reply to  RickWill
November 30, 2022 2:51 pm

And lacking about 95% of essential minerals needed for just one generation of power to electrify the world.

Ron Long
November 30, 2022 2:49 am

I had no idea NERC (rhymes with jerk) existed. Since they have some other agenda than grid stability let’s hope they are an endangered species, which endangerment usually is the result of over-hunting. Just saying.

alexwade
Reply to  Ron Long
November 30, 2022 6:31 am

This is a government bureaucracy. It would literally be far easier to kill all the cockroaches in the world than to kill any government bureaucracy. Furthermore, since it is part of the government, being qualified is the first disqualification for the job. Only the ultra-corrupt hypocrites who are good at politics will be in charge, and those people are incompetent at everything except politics.

Duker
Reply to  alexwade
November 30, 2022 10:44 am

Wrong conclusions. Its a self funded industry body thats also a ‘non profit’. It has a President and CEO and other executives like any other private non profit. They arent funded by taxpayer dollars nor are the board of Trustees appointed by the President etc

David Wojick
Reply to  Ron Long
November 30, 2022 6:59 am

They have 95 standards, many on stability, just nothing yet on the considerable impact of renewables on stability. The utilities are making a fortune on renewables (at ratepayers expense) so have no interest in constraining them.

AndyHce
Reply to  David Wojick
November 30, 2022 12:23 pm

It today’s political climate, it seems to me this is rather like expecting the inquisition to draft and enforce rules to ensure that accused witches get a fair and impartial trial.

c1ue
Reply to  David Wojick
December 1, 2022 5:49 am

Can you expand further on how utilities make a fortune on renewables?
Is it due to the ITC or PTC or something else?

sherro01
November 30, 2022 3:09 am

Who is to account for the dilution of accountability?
Someone needs to man up and explain.
Here in Australia, we find it near impossible to get an answer about who is really driving the net zero madness and what propels the movement. It is easily seen as illogical, unsafe and likely to end in tears, but nobody with much power seems to want to combat it. Why??? Geoff S

AndyHce
Reply to  sherro01
November 30, 2022 12:24 pm

Alien overlords set on eliminating humans?

RickWill
Reply to  sherro01
November 30, 2022 1:49 pm

Nut Zero is an election winner.

So the question is – why is it an election winner?

The leading CO2 demonisers infest the universities. Few academics have built anything or really understand much. Their defining attribute is ability to pass exams. PhDs are not awarded for null results. If you get a stipend to complete a PhD that links CO2 to “global warming” and you get a negative result then you are not awarded the PhD. In essence, those who toe the line get rewarded. Those who buck the system fall by the wayside and get a real job.

Academia controls the education/propoganda agenda for young minds. Eventually those young minds become voters. The “global warming” religion with CO2 demonising as its centrepiece has been going on long enough to have devotees now a powerful political force.

The question that awaits an answer is – will the CO2 demonising end due to people dying from the cold due to lack of energy or overwhelming snowfall across the NH giving cause to question the notion of “global warming”?

David Dibbell
November 30, 2022 3:58 am

Excellent post. I had little awareness of the NERC’s existence and mission. For years now, allowing intermittent wind and solar sources to inject whatever power they are producing into the grid with no responsibility to provide any at all when it is calm or dark, has been a terrible mistake. It is parasitic to the reliable sources. I credit Alex Epstein for being an effective and vocal opponent of this new amplified push into wind and solar under the absurdly named “Inflation Reduction Act.”

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  David Dibbell
November 30, 2022 5:06 am

I think Alex is brilliant- yet, of course, I never see him mentioned in the MSM. His debate with Bill McKibben on YouTube was fantastic since I greatly dislike McKibben. Alex mopped the floor with Willy.

Tom in Florida
November 30, 2022 4:22 am

I went to the NERC website and read through much of the corporate/government quasi specific gobbledygook ramblings and could not find one item addressing their authority over power generation. They are tasked with oversight on the transmission of power not the creation methods of that power. So why blame them for the policies of going to solar and wind?

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Tom in Florida
November 30, 2022 5:09 am

But if the transmission of power is their authority- they could work harder to point out all the problems with the transmission of wind/solar power.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
November 30, 2022 8:50 am

I agree however they are part of the government that pushes wind/solar so they will never bite the hand that feeds them. Time to change hands.

David Wojick
Reply to  Tom in Florida
November 30, 2022 12:28 pm

Yes the Feds have no say on generation. The constraint would be on linking renewables to the transmission grid, which is called interconnection. You might look at some of their existing standards.

The big PJM ISO already has to approve interconnection. They have declared a two year moritorioum on approving solar projects because they cannot assess the impact of the huge number of applications. NERC needs to specify a common method for allowing interconnection.

AndyHce
Reply to  Tom in Florida
November 30, 2022 12:29 pm

So why blame them for the policies of going to solar and wind?

If wind and solar didn’t exist, but some fossil fuel generation sources were cutting corners in such a way that their being attached to the grid promoted instability, leaving it to someone else to handle the problems they create, would you have the same basic question?

Tom in Florida
Reply to  AndyHce
December 1, 2022 7:35 am

The author seems to be placing the blame for policies that push solar/wind in the generation of power on NERC. Blaming the entity that is tasked with transmission of the generated power, without the entity having any say in how that power is generated does not make sense. As stated above, should they present their difficulties to the policy makers? Yes. But that will only get them replaced with someone who will not rock the “green” boat.

c1ue
Reply to  Tom in Florida
December 1, 2022 6:02 am

I do think blaming the NERC for all grid problems is a little too convenient.
If anything, part of the problem is outlined (indirectly) by Planning Engineer in a recent previous post. There are now a number of inter-state transmission pools; the reason these were created was to facilitate the transfer of power across utility/state boundaries per Planning Engineer’s notes on attempts to make generation build/decommission decisions more system aware.
However, that capability is also what has spurred solar PV and wind; the idea is that states/utilities with few people but lots of land, and physically distant/distinct from high demand states could generate electricity and transfer – both to even out otherwise intermittent wind/solar PV but also to build larger “generation capacity”.
The problem is that in practice, large amounts of wind and solar PV wind up causing power pools to have net negative electricity prices for significant periods of time. If I recall correctly, the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) has negative prices 17% of the time in 2021. This has all sorts of negative effects on capital decisions. For example, one thing noted by one of the generation company CEOs at the GCPA Fall conference was the effect of solar PV on “spark spread” – basically a lot/too much solar PV causes daytime electricity price averages and peaks to fall, which in turn makes dispatchable resources like natural gas money losers. Normal natural gas plants – both base load and peaker – rely on making outsize profits during the peak demand periods to offset losses during offpeak. Remove this premium, you lose both base load and peaker, and in turn this means there is less dispatchable capacity when loads get really high, wind or solar PV is really low and/or there is a transmission outage preventing distant solar PV and wind (they tend to be far away in Texas) from reaching the population centers.
The sad reality is that NERC is probably working fine – it is just that they have traditionally functioned in a fairly slow moving environment. The massive influx of solar PV and wind plus other innovations in just a couple decades is such that there simply aren’t guidelines or past experience for NERC to be able to make good decisions – and simply saying “no change” isn’t going to fly.

Tom Abbott
November 30, 2022 4:22 am

From the article: “Moreover, many utilities are posting generation plans that are clearly unreliable, swapping fossil fueled and nuclear plants for wind and solar”

Currently, the electric utility, Public Service Company of Oklahoma is asking for a rate increase of ten percent on all its customers, and they want to use this extra money to build more windmills.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission is requesting comments from the public on this proposal.

I’m not a customer of PSO, but if I were, I would complain that if extra generating capacity is needed it should not be generated by unreliable windmills, but rather the money should be spent building reliable power generation such as more natural gas power plants.

I would not want my money wasted on windmills and solar. They are not the solution to the problem, they *are* the problem, as far as the stability of our electric grids are concerned.

The solution to the power grid problem is to be rid of windmills and solar.

Last edited 2 months ago by Tom Abbott
Jim Gorman
Reply to  Tom Abbott
November 30, 2022 6:01 am

In the past, “public” utilities such power, telephone, and others were actually PUBLIC entities owned by shareholders. They were regulated by Public Utility Commissions that were government bodies that protected the ratepayers AND shareholders by allowing the utility company to recover their investments and expenses plus a set rate of return.

Investments were made by the provider under the approval of the PUC. It all worked well until government bureaucrats thought they could step into the marketplace and design a system to eliminate fossil fuels.

It only proves that government controlled markets never, ever, never ever work. How many past experiments do we have to run before academia teaches people that this is folly? The number of failed government markets is tremendous. Venezuela, China, Cuba, Soviet Union, on and on.

I don’t care how smart these people think they are or what prestigious schools they went to, they can not duplicate the myriad of decisions made every day by consumers. The amount of confirmation bias involved in the attempt to “run” a marketplace is outlandish and simply won’t replace millions of individuals making personal decisions.

n.n
Reply to  Jim Gorman
November 30, 2022 6:15 am

Analogous to the dynamics of an adaptive system processed through small (i.e. market) and large (i.e. single/central/monopolistic solutions/forcings) steps.

Yirgach
Reply to  Jim Gorman
November 30, 2022 10:25 am

I don’t care how smart these people think they are or what prestigious schools they went to, they can not duplicate the myriad of decisions made every day by consumers.

You’re right, there is no way they can duplicate individual social decisions. When I was doing transportation planning 40 years ago we were forecasting system usage for 20 years in the future. It took me a while to figure out that we were not trying to duplicate individual actions but actually stepping back a ways and looking at overall herd movement using a wide range of socioeconomic indicators.. It was also akin to Quantum Mechanics, you couldn’t look too close as things got really fuzzy.
Looking back at the results, the 20 year forecast was within 2 std of what actually happened. Even that took a lot of work and I really doubt that it mattered as politics in the end made the final decision…

Joe Crawford
Reply to  Jim Gorman
November 30, 2022 11:13 am

“How many past experiments do we have to run before academia teaches people that this is folly?”

The first step is for academia to even realize it, or for the few that do, to admit in public that it’s folly, that government controlled markets “never, ever, never ever work”. Since the Dunning-Kruger effect is rampant throughout the pseudoscience side of academia, centralized control has a very strong appeal. If you propose examples where it didn’t work the standard response is: “They just didn’t do it right.”

AndyHce
Reply to  Jim Gorman
November 30, 2022 12:33 pm

I don’t care how smart these people think they are or what prestigious schools they went to, they can not duplicate the myriad of decisions made every day by consumers. The amount of confirmation bias involved in the attempt to “run” a marketplace is outlandish and simply won’t replace millions of individuals making personal decisions.

Doesn’t it work for the ants? These people know we are all just dumb animals in need of direction.

DCE
Reply to  Tom Abbott
November 30, 2022 6:07 am

I wish we could get more CCNG plants up here in New England, but the Greens have done a pretty good job of preventing any more pipelines from being built between Pennsylvania and New England, so there isn’t enough natural gas available to run even the existing plants.

Nuclear would be better, particularly SMRs since they can be built and installed more quickly than the ‘traditional’ nuclear plants. But we know the Greens will push for more unreliable wind and solar.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  DCE
November 30, 2022 11:16 am

They might not after this winter :<)

Duker
Reply to  Joe Crawford
November 30, 2022 2:24 pm

They have a choice . Gas for home heating or gas for power generation but not both.
One way out now that the mega CNG export terminals on the Gulf Coast are operating and more on the way. Some of the tankers just run up to the NE ports and they get their gas that way

DCE
Reply to  Duker
December 1, 2022 4:29 am

The problem is that the Jones Act prevents that since there are no LNG tankers that meet the criteria of the Act that would allow them to haul LNG from the Gulf Coast terminals to the Everett (Boston) LNG terminal. Therefore we’re stuck having to import foreign LNG at full market price.

AndyHce
Reply to  DCE
November 30, 2022 12:40 pm

I’m not knowledgeable enough to declare anything but it seems to me that standardized large nuclear plants might be considerably less costly and less resource intensive. Didn’t that work well in France, at least until the design faults of the latest batch (which faults are probably independent of plant size)?

DCE
Reply to  AndyHce
December 1, 2022 4:48 am

In New Hampshire the uncompleted Seabrook Unit II could be brought online quickly (a year or so) if a dozen SMRs were used at the Unit II site, providing ~924MW of electrical power. (This is assuming the SMRs are NuScale units, each of which have 77MWe of generating capacity.)

The problem with the ‘traditional’ large nuke plant construction is the lengthy construction times and the resources required. (You know the Green drones will fight tooth and nail against such construction, just as they have for decades. The legal delays alone could add 10 years to the construction time and multiply the construction costs.)

SMRs like NuScale’s are built in a factory then trucked on site, installed, hooked up, and turned on. They are refueled every 10 years or so by shutting them off, disconnecting them, and then trucking them back to the factory for refueling. In the mean time a new SMR replaces the one being refueled. It also means that only 77MW of capacity goes offline when an SMR is being swapped, not all 924MW.

I agree that if we used a standard design for all of our nuke plants we’d see economy of scale since every single one would be identical. Instead, we have custom built reactors where even two units built at the same time side-by-side will be different. That was stupid of the US nuclear industry.

If we did go the large nuke route, I would like to think they would be Gen III or Gen IV designs, perhaps Molten Salt Reactors which can be refueled while they are still online, can ‘burn’ depleted fuel from Gen I and Gen II reactors, run at atmospheric pressure, and are walkaway safe.

David Wojick
Reply to  Tom Abbott
November 30, 2022 12:35 pm

I doubt they need more capacity. The plan is probably to replace existing fossil capacity. Does Ok have a new RPS or a net zero law? Virginia has a net zero by 2045 law.the big utility Dominion has posted a plan with almost no storage, which cannot possibly work, but they are happily going to build 5,200 MW of offshore wind for $40 billion before they hit the wall.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  David Wojick
December 1, 2022 4:03 am

“Does Ok have a new RPS or a net zero law?”

No, Oklahoma has a conservative government and Net Zero has not even come up, as far as I know.

Right now, it appears it is just the electric companies that are promoting windmills, presumably because with government subsidies, it is profitable for them, although they won’t be getting any government subsidies from Oklahoma as that was stopped not long ago for all new windmill installations, so the only subsidies the windmills will get is from the federal government.

Oklahoma Natural Gas company is currently running promotions trying to get people to sign up for natural gas.

Oklahoma is a long way from Net Zero. I personally doubt it will be an issue here. I think the whole Net Zero House of Cards will collapse long before that happens.

observa
November 30, 2022 4:28 am

Wot you need is price controls to drive investment not to mention the billions you could save by not wasting energy (see video too)-
https://www.msn.com/en-au/money/other/britain-s-energy-watchdog-proposes-power-price-controls/ar-AA14JdoS

Simples really.

n.n
Reply to  observa
November 30, 2022 6:20 am

Price controls, especially Medicare/Medicaid/Obamacares that are 80% unfunded, is how America evolved with progressive prices (“inflation”) and availability, compensated through redistributive change schemes (e.g taxation; welfare; labor arbitrage/outsourcing, insourcing; environmental arbitrage/Green deals; credit/debt).

observa
Reply to  n.n
November 30, 2022 6:40 am

Not to worry the public servants at Ofgem have all the answers-
https://www.msn.com/en-au/money/other/ofgem-says-energy-network-firms-must-invest-without-upping-bills/ar-AA14JQeA
These people are experts with letters after their names.

JC
Reply to  observa
December 1, 2022 11:55 am

That is what OPEC does. Russia constantly violates bottom price agreements pushing big discounts on oil to maintain revenue in a tough regional market place or to buy influence like the Saudi Prince/King does….he has to protect Mecca from the Shiites Bush served him well. Today Russia is selling Urals oil for $56 a barrel when WTI crude is 81 why because they want to control a particular market and increase the revenue rate so their oil doesn’t sit in tanks somewhere.

Revenue is what drives production if the price is too high revenue can drop. If prices are sky high revenues can skyrocket without need of production, which has been part of the problem. Lot’s of oil entering the market to capture some benefit of the sky high oil prices; this is coming to an end. Soon (next 18 months or less) oil prices will stabilize in the 55-65 range even while global demand climbs as the world economy recovers from the pandemic debacle and Putin’s war. Revenues will be more stable and predictable and the massive global proven reserves of oil and natural gas will just keep pumping away into the 22nt Century LOL

Because of the huge glut of proven NG an Oil reserve globally, the oil market remains anxious. The pandemic crashed this market to smithereens for several months in 2020. Rumors of wars, famine, pestilence and threats are the political world we live in making for very shaky markets.

Last edited 1 month ago by JC
Joseph Zorzin
November 30, 2022 5:01 am

Here in north central Massachusetts- I’m aware of a number of proposed solar “farms” that were prevented from being built because the grid couldn’t handle them- not sure why. I was glad to see some fail- one was of a forestry client- the owner was happy to have his entire forest destroyed to become a solar “farm”. Though the solar thing didn’t happen on his land, I dropped the guy as a client.

n.n
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
November 30, 2022 6:24 am

The, ironically, greater than 1 degree variable output, and lack of buffering in pump and dump energy schemes, is a first-order forcing of [catastrophic] [anthropogenic] energy affordability, availability, and stability.

David Wojick
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
November 30, 2022 12:40 pm

It is not really a grid. It is mostly big wires from big generators to big load centers, plus a distribution system. You cannot just build new generators all over the map and hook them up.

I have a saying: If a system was not designed to do what you want, it won’t.

Tom Halla
November 30, 2022 5:10 am

Subsidy mining led to the rolling blackouts in Texas in 2021. As wind subsidies led to a distorted electric market, losing wind and having a spike in demand due to the effects of weather and the demand curve of heat pumps caused a near crash.
Wind and solar are weather dependent, and storage is vaporware.

n.n
November 30, 2022 6:12 am

Abort reliables, normalize nonviables, sequester the carbon with advocacy for planned energyhood and other dysfunctional orientations: net-zero growth. Deja vu.

Frank from NoVA
November 30, 2022 6:32 am

David, I think you’re barking up the wrong tree. The Independent Service Operators (ISOs, e.g, PJM, NEISO, ERCOT, etc.) are responsible for scheduling, i.e., matching energy supply to load. I would think they are independent of the politically correct jerks (rhymes with NERC) who run the public utility commissions within an ISO’s footprint, but could be wrong. In any event, it would be up to the ISOs to raise the alarm on the threat posed by intermittent power sources.

Douglas Pollock
November 30, 2022 6:57 am

Although not for affordability, to have reliability, availability and renewables working together at the same time as a symphony like Beethoven’s Seventh, we (you, the US) must NOT continue to make the same great mistake of the West which has been to REPLACE instead of EXPANDING thermal generation together with renewables because of the unavoidable need for backup. Pretending that CO2 emissions shrink (CO2 emissions INCREASE) as renewables climb like vines on the grids, what instead has been done as green generation escalates is to progressively take bites out of the remaining thermal capacity which was meant to meet demand, not to backup “sustainable” unreliables. Sooner than later, Western grids will no longer withstand such lack of commom sense and massive blackouts will ensue everywhere. While laughing their heads off, China, Russia and India enjoy the juicy profits of Western stupidity.
I wonder if this isn’t already happening.

Duane
November 30, 2022 7:08 am

NERC isn’t the government, and has no legal powers to do anything. It is formed voluntarily by the nation’s electric utilities as a research and advisory entity, and is designated as an “Electric Reliability Organization” that does not own or control any actual utilities. The actual ownership of assets and control over the grid is performed by the utilities themselves, which are a combination of public owned and private utilities.

Blaming NERC is dumb. They only research and recommend. If there are grid failures or shortfalls, it is the utilities who are to blame. And those utilities are regulated by the individual States, not the Federal government.

Duker
Reply to  Duane
November 30, 2022 10:48 am

Only research and recommend?

Thats not what NERC says

Compliance Enforcement is the process by which NERC issues sanctions and ensures mitigation of confirmed violations of mandatory NERC Reliability Standards. As part of these efforts, NERC can also issue directives to immediately address and deter new or further violations, irrespective of their presence or status (i.e., confirmed or alleged).

https://www.nerc.com/pa/comp/Pages/Default.aspx

Im about to eat , so no time to look for the list of entities sanctioned

Janice Moore
Reply to  Duane
November 30, 2022 10:56 am

1. NERC has the authority to develop proposed Reliability Standards to constrain and manage the growth of renewables.

2. That NERC (rhymes with “jerk” 😄) is not the only party who can promote grid reliability is no reason to not demand that it do what it can.

Paul Maeder
Reply to  Duane
December 1, 2022 9:02 am

No, NERC has plenty of legal power, most importantly to fine non-compliant utilities, and their fines can be huge.

I spent three years working with NERC, SERC (the southeastern regional entity under NERC), and, finally, FERC to bring an electric utility into compliance with NERC regulations and then in a successful effort to get that utility out from under NERC regulation. This was in 2008-2011, so perhaps things have changed, but my impression was that NERC and SERC were sort of “amateur” regulators who made their rules in isolation (or only in semi-coordination with just the largest utilities) and had no idea of what local implementation of those rules was like.

As an example, on one group phone meeting with NERC reps, the conversation began with a NERC employee telling us that no questions would be allowed on our part. Some conversation that was. On another occasion, NERC threatened a fine of $300k for a short delay in making a phone call to the FBI to inform that agency the utility was under NERC regulation. Fines of that size for tiny violations means NERC has clout.

I don’t want to demean NERC or its mission. It was delegated its powers by FERC in response to the huge 2003 Northeast power blackout, and was charged to keep that from happening again. And, I expect it has become a better regulator over time. It has a vitally important mission, and very difficult problems to resolve. And, again, it has plenty of legal power.

Joe Gordon
November 30, 2022 7:32 am

It is probably too late to save the power grid. Our children have been taught from kindergarten onward that CO2 and methane and an ever-increasing number of gasses are causing irrevocable damage to the earth.

Critical thinking is no longer part of education.

Their teachers are organized and fanatical and institutionalized. They behave exactly as a church behaves. Universities are even worse.

Our lawmakers are spineless and motivated by self-preservation. They see this wave and seek only to profit from it. Those who are connected to the wealth of the government will be the last to suffer from a failed power grid.

So they enact these laws enabling and funding the church.

About 250 years ago, what we call our Founding Fathers risked everything because they knew that a country led by a church, devoid of critical thinking, was not a country worth a damn.

We are faced with the same challenge. And I’m afraid we must endure the cost of a failed power grid, the inevitable loss of freedom as China and Russia step in to establish control, before we learn that lesson.

The question is no longer if, but when, China establishes that control. And then the next question is how long it takes before another significant group of Founding Fathers rises against that control. It may take centuries.

Our children are mostly brain-dead at this point. They’re so afraid of climate change that they don’t even want to have children of their own. Soon, it will become impossible to elect anyone who isn’t a full-throated member of the church – that may already be the case.

Sorry to be so doom and gloom, but I think the focus of this fight has been misdirected for years now. You don’t fight the church with logic. Religion and logic have nothing in common. You fight it by holding it to its own words. By resisting. By calling out where it has failed and refusing to allow it to play the game religion has always played – redefining and changing history to match its own present.

This battle begins with the children. We need to teach them to think for themselves again.

Editor
November 30, 2022 8:12 am

David ==> The underlying problem is the unfathomable ignorance of our political masters about the very nature of electricity and particularly of “The Grid”.

Almost no one knows or believes the fact that the electrical grid must have EQUAL INPUT and OUTPUT. Let it get a bit out of balance and things starts to breakdown.

The very idea is practically and literally unthinkable for almost everyone — meaning that they cannot think that thought.

In the minds of nearly everyone, electricity works like our drinking water system: There is a reservoir (somewhere, over the rainbow) which contains a big lake of electriticty, and that electricity runs downhil through the wires and comes out at our homes and businesses when we turn on the faucet by flipping a light switch.

Thus, if something makes more electricity than we are using on a regular basis, as will be fine, our “electricity reservoir” will stay reassuringly full.

IF the world worked that way, we’d be in good shape.

The fact that it doesn’t means we are in for a hard time.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Kip Hansen
November 30, 2022 11:09 am

Dear Editor,

Please DELETE “Howdy, Commenter Name” and REPLACE WITH

Welcome, Commenter Name.”

What is this publication, some kind of hick-town gossip sheet?

Sincerely,

Janice Moore

Last edited 2 months ago by Janice Moore
Disputin
Reply to  Janice Moore
December 1, 2022 4:20 am

Hear hear, Janice!

It’s been annoying me too, but I’m too idle to do anything about it.

JC
Reply to  Kip Hansen
November 30, 2022 1:42 pm

Hey Kip

After nearly 50 years of yap about high tech power storage and distribution innovation all we have are media gadgets and tax subsidized renewable inputs in systems designed to fail.

We live in an age of self righteous bandwagon stupidity via our media and social media. The stupidity is a barrier to knowledge. People work off of vague presuppositions and inferences based on images, tweets, Babble, feelings, incomplete information and propaganda. I don’t believe our politicians are stupid but they have to represent that all truth is one truth mentality, (both-and distinctions are lost on people today) It is so easy to manipulate and leverage our monistic thought world, (loss of knowledge, logic and unity in diversity distinctions) to maintain the status quo which is hydrocarbon fuel because we live in an age of massive proven global reserves.

I have no problem with hydrocarbon fuel. What I have a problem with is colluded hydrocarbon energy markets and being played with as far as prices and various fear mongering threats about energy and the grid. There is no alternative fix the dang grid.

If the grid fails and hydrocarbon fuel prices hit the stratosphere, guess what, those of us who survive will adapt, innovations will happen, revolutions will happen and new markets will open up and the world will change. Dystopic sounding, I know but this is the reality of the world we live in today. Remember Japan attacked Pearl Harbor nearly 82 years ago in part because we threatened, played and eventually cut off their oil supply.

I just want to burn it to produce my own electricity, store it and distribute it for my own use off grid to side step all the grid entirely and it’s taxes. I would use renewable inputs if they were profitable financially. Systems exist but they are anti-profitable because e the batteries a poor and very expensive.

Paul B
November 30, 2022 9:33 am

Every milliwatt of energy harvested from solar panels ends up as heat energy delivered to the planet. Every solar panel reduces albedo, thereby converting additional SW to LW that would have been harmlessly reflected by the original landscape. Therefore solar panels increase global warming, right?

Likewise, harvesting KE from wind makes electricity which becomes heat, while simultaneously reducing wind velocity downstream from the bird choppers. Reduced wind velocity means less conductive surface cooling, less evaporation, and less atmospheric mixing. All these secondary effects reduce surface cooling, reducing surface radiation. Therefore wind farms also increase global warming.

This ignores the energy it took to make these ‘warmers’. As a first cut analysis, it seems to me you don’t even have to do any math magic to condemn the entire ‘free energy’ religion.

Duker
Reply to  Paul B
November 30, 2022 10:58 am

Since when did roofs reflect all their sunlight.
Citys are already absorbing more sunlight from buildings and roads and concrete. Solar panels arent changing that

Joe Crawford
Reply to  Duker
November 30, 2022 11:27 am

I don’t think he’s talking about roof-top solar panels :<)

Duker
Reply to  Joe Crawford
November 30, 2022 2:20 pm

Hes nuts . Thinking solar panels increase warming and wind turbines reduce wind speeds.
Likely when hydro dams were first built some claimed the river would slow down too.
The potential energy from sun and wind is so enormous and so highly variable on even a regional scale that this doesnt matter. Its both massive and ‘thinly spread’ .

JC
November 30, 2022 11:07 am

Better save the grid (even at 70 Billion) …no alternative. Without safe, affordable, efficient and effective electrical energy storage and distribution system, renewable inputs are nothing more than expensive income redistributing posturing. Furthermore, there will be no option for decentralized off grid transition for local communities and households.

With a safe affordable, efficient and effective electrical storage and distribution system who cares what the inputs are, if they are profitable either on grid or household scales….BUT THEY DO NOT EXIST! If they do clue me in!

Below are some of the reasons we will not see a rapid development of a safe, affordable and efficient and effective electrical storage and distribution systems except at the level of digital gadgets.

  • EV’s still require electrical generation using hydrocarbon fuels at generator to battery grid efficiency of 33%. Internal combustion vehicles burn hydrocarbon fuels at 47% efficiency, which is 14% more efficient than an EV. A CNG car is even more efficient.
  • Ten years ago, it was reported the grid was 17% efficient. Not sure what has changed to make the grid more efficient other than statistical parameter and definition changes. If you know clue me in.
  • EV’s will effectively use 14% or more hydrocarbon fuel than internal combustion cars.

But what if the home owner is able to use renewable and hydrocarbon fuel inputs in a high tech home generation, storage and distribution system at 70% efficiency to Charge Next Gen EV-900 miles quickly, then EV’s make total sense and real hydrocarbon fuel demand destruction of 50% or more happens due to true and significant and profitable efficiencies, (this would even be more true with building heating and electrification…unless of course we went all nuke and how expensive is that? Clue me in. Are nukes cheaper than NG turbines?

  • With the global political, military and espionage fight over hydrocarbon market control we ain’t going to see anything like a paradigmatic change in electrical generation, storage and distribution on any scope grid or off grid; not in this century.

It new battery tech could it leaks out sideways in application scaled for remote areas like Africa, Brazil and the arctic This sort of infrastructure innovation is totally globally programmatically wrapped up.

JC
Reply to  JC
November 30, 2022 11:20 am

Other than the economic and political barriers to a truly innovative electrical storage systems are the R&D barriers and they are formidable; if I can believe what I am reading. SC RD is still compressing and doping stuff trying to figure out SC. The R&D remains mostly experimental and theoretical. There are many promising materials but nothing in the pipeline to commercialization. Ion batteries remain paradigmatic with some promising innovation to make them charge faster, increase their safety and decrease cost…. but there is no quantum leap for ion batteries on the horizon. If there is clue me in.

JC
Reply to  JC
November 30, 2022 11:28 am

The off grid home electrical generation, storage and distribution system using multiple input paradigm does exist for homeowners. Micro-turbines burning any fuel to turn generators are available through Capstone and other companies, Tesla has home lithium battery systems, many companies provide solar panels and TEG products are beginning to emerge. But it isn’t viable except for the ultra rich. The annual cost per year would be 3x to 4x or more than most of us are paying for energy for all applications. This is because the batteries only last 10 years and are ultra expensive. Finally, who wants a fire hazard in their home.

Duker
Reply to  JC
November 30, 2022 2:14 pm

tesla batteries ?
There was a major wind storm outside Melbourne Australia around 18 months back, which mean the local area power was out in numerous areas with lots of trees. because of the scale of the event most in these areas were without power for up to 2 weeks or more.
Those people with Tesla batteries and rooftop solar power soon found that their domestic load didnt match the batteries capacity over just a few days without power and poor conditions for solar. Another surprise was for a near flat Tesla battery unit , it could only be charged by mains power!

JC
Reply to  Duker
December 1, 2022 11:30 am

Duker,

I am not a fan of Tesla batters for the reasons I have already stated, (ultra expensive, and only last 10 years)… slow to charge and would have problems taking bursts of wattage from solar panels. I am assuming this is the reason in your example that the Tesla batteries were charged by grid power only and not the solar panels, which is a huge reason Ion batteries won’t work well on any scale for intermittent power generation charging and storage. I am also assuming Australia does not have regulations preventing the battery storage of electricity from solar panels; requiring grid electricity only for battery storage. (i.e. this is a regulation that the Big Energy carbon tax lobby is pushing for in many states in the US) .

As a back up source, one Tesla panel might work for 2-3 days… you would need 7 fully charged Tesla panels to cover up to a 3 week power outage…. that’s Ultra Expensive x 7.

The only electrical storage paradigm that works for something as variable as Solar for home use (or capstone microturbine heating home while simultaneously generating electricity off and on throughout the winter) would be a Superconductive Magnetic Electrical energy storage system which can instantaneously charge up huge bursts of wattage and distribute on demand . Unfortunately, they do not exist commercially for home use. If they did, they would be ginormously expensive. SCMES have relatively low energy density which would required clusters of SCMES and extensive and expensive switching systems at both input and output

SC R&D is not close to commercializing all temp superconductors that would revolutionized the SCMES market. The R&D all temp SC remains experimental and theoretical. It is possible that magic angle Graphene could make SCMES much lighter and with greater energy density but would still require cryogenic support and graphene is very expensive.

High energy density, all temp SCMES is the holy grail for space travel, robotics, commercial rail and air travel, military, submarines, grid and every home owner. Since it is the Holy Grail, it’s hard to trust the info on the internet…..so take everything I said about the future of SCMES with a gain of salt.

michel
November 30, 2022 11:20 am

You can see what is happening in the UK in the last few days. Ross Clark writes about it in the Daily Mail (not usually the best of sources but….):

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-11483689/ROSS-CLARK-Rishi-Sunak-caves-wind-turbine-zealots-lights-Britain.html

Essentially, Britain has at the moment about 40GW of wind and solar (26 wind and 14 solar).

It is currently generating from both, after 4pm, about 1-2GW.

The rest is coming from gas, nuclear and interconnects to Europe. Gas is doing over 60%.

And the political class is unanimous in agreeing that the conclusion to draw from this not uncommon situation is to build out more wind, and at the same time lower gas use, and at the same time move to electric vehicles and heat pumps for home heating.

You cannot get there from here, or not by this route. Maybe the US will learn from the coming catastrophe?

Notice also one thing I have said before, which the present case proves: increasing wind just increases your dependence on gas.

Old.George
November 30, 2022 12:45 pm

Given the top-down political orders from the powers that be, NERC can do no more than warn.

It is bad governance to remove a source of energy or transport of same without having a new source or transport that is equal or better.

CO2 is insignificant as a greenhouse gas. Its effect is as large as it can be — it is already saturated. Increasing CO2 changes nothing. All this “renewable” scare is political, not scientific. NERC just said so in different words.

RickWill
November 30, 2022 1:14 pm

Most of Europe day ahead electricity price for 1st Nov is EUR400/MWh; corresponds to EUR0.4/kWh. That is the WHOLESALE price. And it is just the first day of winter. My worst prediction is that the price will not matter in 90 days. There just will not be any electricity available.

North America is aiming to have the same generating mix as Europe. Good luck.

If only the incompetent climate modellers understood that warmer winters where there is no sunshine only come about by more snow. Sure winter temperatures are trending up but so is snowfall.

Last time earth experienced “global warming” at the current level was at the termination of the last interglacial 117k years ago; precisely 5 precession cycles back in history.

Last edited 2 months ago by RickWill
Coeur de Lion
November 30, 2022 1:42 pm

And CO2 doesn’t matter, remember

David Wojick
December 1, 2022 4:11 pm

FERC orders NERC to develop reliability standards for renewables!

https://www.utilitydive.com/news/ferc-reliability-standards-wind-solar-inverter-based-resources-nerc/636909/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Issue:%202022-12-01%20Utility%20Dive%20Renewable%20Energy%20%5Bissue:46371%5D&utm_term=Utility%20Dive:%20Renewable%20Energy

I started calling for this in June. People said it could not happen, but here it is. Now we must help NERC get it right, right?

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