How FERC can protect the grid from wind and solar


By David Wojick 

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is taking comments on ways to limit the damage that renewables can do to grid reliability. See my

FERC has no control over what power generators get built, that is a State function. But they do have a say in what is hooked into the grid, which is called interconnection. Reliability starts with interconnection approval.

It is all a bit murky, but interconnection approvals seem to be in the hands of the independent system operators, under some sort of FERC authority. For example, PJM (the biggest ISO) recently asked FERC for permission to implement a two year moratorium on grid scale solar hookups.

The big reliability problem is that States and their regulated utilities are in a rush to shut down what are called “dispatchable” power plants. This means plants that can generate juice when it is needed, especially coal, nuclear and gas powered plants.

The States and utilities are hot to replace this dispatchable iron with wind and solar generation, which only produces power when the weather is right, not when it is needed. These are called intermittent generators.

Obviously intermittent generators need dispatchable generators as backup, to provide the needed power when the weather is not right (including every night for solar). Energy storage via batteries and such would also do the job but it is impossibly expensive. See my

Given this background my basic idea is pretty simple. FERC should implement this simple rule:

Proposed FERC rule: In order to be approved for interconnection an intermittent generator must have sufficient backup.

There are two fairly hairy technical issues here, that FERC, NERC and the ISO’s will have to solve. What does it mean to have backup, and what is sufficient backup?

One simple approach to having the required backup might be for the interconnecting utility to certify it. However, in the case of many of the thousands of municipal and rural electric cooperatives, they do not have any dispatchable generation. They often depend on the local big utility for generation. In those cases the certification might have to be multi-utility.

There is something of a precedent here. My understanding is that FERC will not approve a pipeline until there is some sort of certification by enough potential users.

How much backup is sufficient involves availability over time, as well as amount. Given the weather dependency of renewables this probably depends on local weather conditions.

No solar at night is a given but in most of the country there can also be protracted cloudy periods. In some places these cloudy periods can be very long, in others not so much.

Wind droughts are common pretty much everywhere. In fact extreme temperatures are often periods of wind too low to generate power.

Reliable generating capacity requires meeting the worst reasonably likely case. This case should define what constitutes sufficient backup. Recent research suggests that hour by hour weather projections will be necessary in order to find the proper certification requirements.

FERC’s comment request also includes planning for renewables. Our proposed backup requirement might lead to more careful planning than we are presently seeing. Utilities would not rush to shut down dispatchable generators if it meant they could not add renewables.

In fact the kind of analysis needed in order to define sufficient backup amounts to part of basic planning. Another big part of planning is to project the potentially greatly increased need for power given the rush for widespread electrification of things like transport and gas heat.

Electrification well might require the use of a lot of dispatchable generating capacity, leaving little available to meet the backup requirements for new renewables. In this sense electrification and the transition to renewables may well be conflicting goals.

The basic idea is very simple; do not add renewables without sufficient backup. FERC can make this a reliability rule for the grid.


David Wojick

David Wojick, Ph.D. is an independent analyst working at the intersection of science, technology and policy. For origins see

For over 100 prior articles for CFACT see

Available for confidential research and consulting.

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Tom Halla
February 25, 2023 1:42 pm

Changing rules that favor “renewables” would be simpler. Discounting whether dependent sources is the proper means, and paying less for nondispatchable sources is needed. Of course, the current tax and regulations favor bird choppers and solar.

Ed Reid
Reply to  Tom Halla
February 25, 2023 1:59 pm

The federal and state regulators should encourage and support a utility
requirement that all new intermittent renewable generation sources
connected to their grids include sufficient storage to render them
dispatchable and sufficient excess generating capacity to recharge
storage after use. The storage necessary to meet this requirement would
depend on the maximum number of consecutive hours or days during which
the generators were unable to operate because of low solar insolation or
inadequate or excessive wind conditions and the frequency of such
occurrences. The generators could be required to be dispatchable 85% of
the year, which is the common dispatchability percentage for coal
generating stations.


A dispatchability requirement would also end the fiction that renewables are cheaper.

Bryan A
Reply to  Ed Reid
February 25, 2023 3:52 pm

AYUP the whole system is steadily getting more and more FERC’d. The ultimate and least costly method to maintain grid stability is to simply NOT DEPEND ON WEATHER DEPENDENT GENERATION .
Don’t install wind or solar.
If it is installed it must be utilized OFF GRID ONLY

Last edited 1 month ago by Bryan A
Reply to  Bryan A
February 26, 2023 3:14 pm


It is absolutely necessary to have highly reliable electricity service, if we are forced by the government to “ELECTRIFY”, i.e., have heat pumps, and electric vehicles, and electric ovens.

Europe Learning an Expensive Wind/Solar Lesson: There was hot weather and plenty of sunshine, but little wind and little rain, i.e., a drought, in Europe, in 2022

As a result, there was plenty of solar electricity, but less than normal wind and hydro electricity 
Also, French nuclear plant output had to be curtailed, due to: 1) delaying proper maintenance, 2) strikes for higher wages, and 3) insufficient cooling water. France, instead of a major exporter, became an importer of electricity.

Europe, in addition to the scrounging around to replace Russian gas, also had to fire up all of its gas plants, and re-start some retired coal plants, and, in Germany, keep some nuclear plants running, to offset the unreliability of weather-dependent electricity, such as wind, solar, hydro, and even nuclear.

Wind and Solar are Deficient Electricity Sources: Wind and solar could not be fed to the NE grid, unless the traditional power plants were present to counteract their output variations, on a less than minute-by-minute basis, 24/7/365. That means, almost none of the traditional power plants, and their fuel supplies and fuel storage capacity, can be shutdown, if wind and solar become high percentages of the annual electricity load onto the NE grid.

It would be very prudent, to have a large capacity, MW, of coal, oil, and gas plants, that are staffed, with nearby fuel supplies and fuel storage capacity, kept in good working order, to be ready to operate, on demand, especially during:

1) Peak demand hours of late-afternoon/early-evening
2) Wind/solar lulls that could last 5 to 7 days, and could be followed by another multi-day wind/solar lull a few days later, before any battery systems could have been recharged!!

Wind systems generate electricity when the wind is blowing, but zero electricity when the air is still
Solar systems generate electricity when the sun is shining, especially around noontime, but generate less electricity when the sky is cloudy, and zero electricity when the sky is dark, or when panels are covered with snow and ice for several days.

As a result, wind and solar cannot function as dispatchable resources – meaning, they cannot be quickly deployed, on demand, such as during the peak-demand periods of late-afternoon/early-evening.

This article shows the wind/solar generation shortfall, and turnkey capital cost, due to a one-day wind/solar lull in New England
It also shows the electricity drawn from the high-voltage grid to enable grid-scale battery systems to counteract the one-day shortfall

Bill Parsons
Reply to  Bryan A
February 27, 2023 11:44 am

My first thought was the law of grape vine pruning applies: if it’s a bad vine or sucker, prune it. Cut that green sucker right off at the vine. Maybe the next president…

Ed Reid
Reply to  Tom Halla
February 25, 2023 2:10 pm

Discounting weather dependent sources isn’t enough, because the grid needs dispatchable sources. A grid with 85% weather dependent sources would be a disaster waiting to happen; and, it would not have to wait long.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Ed Reid
February 25, 2023 2:13 pm

More than about 30% weather dependent sources is dangerous, as Texas learned in February 2021. Dealing with the subsidy miners distorting investment is the issue.

Reply to  Tom Halla
February 25, 2023 10:00 pm

But but but …Denmark or Ireland.
However they just prove the point with interconnectors to neighbours that are such larger scale that the backup requirements hardly make a difference
Grid stability then comes into it, as those large capacity interconnectors are computer controlled and will cut you off faster than you can blink when the wind power results in in frequency instability. South Australia found that out as Ireland and Denmark will at some stage. A system wide cold start isn’t a nice thing to go through

Iain Reid
Reply to  Duker
February 26, 2023 12:59 am

Denmark is an exception as Norway provides a dispachable service, and also absorbs excesswind generation on occasions. Without Norway, Denmark’s grid would not function.
Ireland is presumably similar?

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Duker
February 26, 2023 2:35 am

South Australia now has a very large battery which provides excellent frequency control. I’m sure Denmark does too.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 26, 2023 4:03 am

Frequency control for how long? Seconds, minutes, hours?

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Jim Gorman
February 26, 2023 4:15 pm

All the time.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 26, 2023 5:00 am
Nick Stokes
Reply to  It doesnot add up
February 26, 2023 4:25 pm

Yes, not so big. But for frequency control, the key requirement is MW delivered, which that article doesn’t say.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 27, 2023 2:37 am

The article explains the purpose is to act as a reserve to charge EVs. It’s green bling for the Vestas HQ.

The battery charges from the mains, and with a newly developed software, the battery digitally synchronizes with specific Vestas wind turbines, thus ensuring that it only charges when the wind turbines are producing power. The electricity generated from the Vestas test turbines in Østerild find its way cross country to this site.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 26, 2023 11:52 am

For how many minutes can that battery supply the whole grid load? I bet that figure is not prominently quoted!

Nick Stokes
Reply to  mikelowe2013
February 26, 2023 4:29 pm

I am talking about one of the really useful functions of a battery, which is frequency control. There the requirement is to deliver a substantial current correction, but not for a long time.

These batteries are not expected to power the grid for great lengths of time.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 27, 2023 6:41 am

These batteries are not expected to power the grid for great lengths of time.

I could wire 8 AA batteries to produce 12 volts to try and start my car. But they wouldn’t be much good would they?
Battery backup for the grid that won’t last for long wouldn’t be much good either, would they?

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 27, 2023 5:56 am

Frequency control is the least difficult of the tasks a grid must deliver on.
Ramping or spinning control is what actually matters: how to handle the changes when demand ramps – which happens at least twice during each day plus weather and/or accident and/or maintenance situations.
To give an idea: for each of the ISO regions, peak demand reserve requirements are 12% to 16.9% of respective 26.3 GW to 147 GW range – but at least 0.45 GW. 0.45 GW is probably half of all the battery storage, at the grid level, in existence in the US.
Peak capacity reserve requirements are higher: 18% to 28.9% of 30.3 to 172GW – with the minimum being 0.72 GW.
Put another way: existing grid level battery storage can provide value, but it is the most short term: seconds to well under 1 hour of use. This is the least systemically impactful.
In order to graduate to the point where batteries can provide systemically impactful value, they have to graduate to spinning, non-spinning or replacement reserves which can provide power in the hours to days scale.
Grid scale batteries at present costs are really expensive band aids, not battlefield medicine.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Tom Halla
February 26, 2023 4:56 am

The Texas problem was and remains precisely what David Wojick is highlighting. Not enough dispatchable backup capacity.

Tom Halla
Reply to  It doesnot add up
February 26, 2023 5:00 am

The gaslighting wind power fools claimed Texas not being on the national grid was a fault. Where, pray tell, was the added power supposed to be coming from? Most of the south central US had similar weather that week, so it would have only broadened the area affected.

Ed Reid
Reply to  Tom Halla
February 26, 2023 5:09 am

Duke Power imposed blackouts in NC because contracted supplies from adjacent utilities did not appear and the sun wasn’t up yet.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Ed Reid
February 26, 2023 2:20 pm

Indeed one of the painful lessons that will be coming to grids around the world is that interties and interconnectors are useless when you get continental scale weather systems that reduce renewables to nothing. You need local dispatchable capacity capable of meeting demand.

Ed Reid
Reply to  It doesnot add up
February 26, 2023 5:29 am

…complicated by other customer demand for natural gas, leaving little gas available in the spot market used by the backup generators.

Reply to  Ed Reid
February 26, 2023 8:27 am

…caused by an EPA requirement to power natural gas equipment from the electrical grid, not from natural gas powered equipment.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Ed Reid
February 26, 2023 8:46 am

There was ample gas to run the available capacity (but I concede had they had the extra 7GW or so they really needed there might not have been) – at least until the Big Trip that knocked out a number of key compressor stations, starving power stations and domestic consumers of fuel. Industrial demand had been curtailed, and redelivery of dry gas from storage was more than making up for loss of onshore production. After the Big Trip the system struggled for days until the weather warmed up and demand abated.

Rud Istvan
February 25, 2023 2:27 pm

This is a very sensible and obvious suggestion. I would add one part. Renewables must not only (at their cost) cover intermittency backup, they must also cover their lack of grid inertia (frequency control)—doable by adding very expensive static condensers (essentially large unpowered synced rotating ‘generators’), which add the necessary grid inertia rotating mass.
Of course, this would end renewables at any big level of grid subsidization by exposing the engineering economics of their two intrinsic fatal flaws.

Renewables work at very low penetration because the normal grid reliability ‘spare capacity’ (~12-15%) covers their inherent faults. At any significant penetration, they are exposed. This excellent FERC proposal exposes the intrinsic renewable for a reliable grid engineering defects earlier than otherwise.

Dennis Gerald Sandberg
Reply to  Rud Istvan
February 25, 2023 4:28 pm

Wind and solar has a strong political constituency that isn’t going to go away. The best we can hope for is capping renewables at 15%. A recent series of postings here on WUWT discussed the “Pollock Limit” which suggests that any additional W&S above the local service area grid capacity factor is wasteful because of the consequent curtailment costs and loss of revenue to idled conventional. A typical cap in this case would be about 25% grid penetration. A reasonable cost-effective cap is 15% because of frequency control and other integration issues. California and Texas are good examples of the need for “limits on growth”.

Reply to  Dennis Gerald Sandberg
February 26, 2023 12:52 am

Flounder Limit***, not Pollock Limit
Wrong fish

When an individual electric utility has such a high percentage of unreliables that a blackout becomes inevitable, they have reached their Flounder Limit.

That limit depends on local weather conditions being unfavorable for wind and solar during the hours of peak electricity demand — the worst case hours for matching electricity supply and demand. The Duck Curve will defeat the weather dependent unreliables. Blackouts ahead. It may be that multiple blackouts are required to stop Nut Zero.

*** My invention to give Monckton a hard time on his magic Pollock Limit. Nobel Prize pending.

Reply to  Dennis Gerald Sandberg
February 26, 2023 8:32 am

Any amount of unreliable non-dispatchable electrical generation capacity over 0% is wasteful.

ALL unreliable generation is excess capacity not needed for the functioning of the grid.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Rud Istvan
February 26, 2023 4:56 am

 (essentially large unpowered synced rotating ‘generators’)” are suitable for *very* short term frequency control. They are simply not suitable for anything longer than a few seconds because they are not “powered”. The issue with the intermittent generators is that they can be off-line for minutes, days, or even weeks. Synchronous condensers simply won’t provide the necessary backup for these periods.

If you “power” them then they just become regular dispatchable generators. The issue then becomes how do you power them? Nat Gas? Coal? Oil?

February 25, 2023 2:29 pm

 Energy storage via batteries and such would also do the job but it is impossibly expensive.

anytime a skeptic says impossible you can read “easy”

adjectives always give away bad arguments.

not impossible

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Steven Mosher
February 25, 2023 5:37 pm

Building pyramids using rudimentary hand tools and massive amounts of labor is also possible. Nobody does it today because it’s a complete waste of scarce resources. Unfortunately, today’s Pharaohs have yet to reach that conclusion about renewable energy.

Last edited 1 month ago by Frank from NoVA
Martin Brumby
Reply to  Steven Mosher
February 25, 2023 8:05 pm

Mr. Mosher.
In 2009, you wrote and published a book with Thomas W. Fuller, titled “Climategate – The Crutape Letters.”

So, maybe in the last 14 years since then you have written a letter to your Mum, or a Fairy Tale for a child, or whatever, that actually made sense and was honest. I don’t know but really hope so.

But so far as what you post on here goes, 2009 was the last time you posted anything that wasn’t a puff piece for Ruinable Energy.

Did they make you an offer you couldn’t refuse?

Reply to  Martin Brumby
February 26, 2023 3:16 pm

The problem with wanting to be liked by “the cool kids” (i.e. climate caterwaulers) has always been that the aspirants (in this case Steve) have to be seen to enthusiastically embrace and promote the cool kids’ fads, even though they know they’re regurgitating bullshit.

“a man’s fan’s gotta do what a man wouldn’t do”

Dave Fair
Reply to  Steven Mosher
February 25, 2023 8:11 pm

That study graphs indicate battery packs (total installation costs) will decrease (in constant 2020 dollars) from 2020 to 2025 by about 30%, 2025 to 2030 by an additional approximately 12% and 2030 to 2050 by an additional approximately 15%. That’s a whopping 57% reduction! The post-2020 prices don’t seem to be going anywhere near a 30% reduction by 2025.

An October 26, 2022 IEA study estimated battery packs would fall in constant dollars by 13% between 2025 and 2040. Given estimated materials shortages and expected accelerated inflation that also seems wildly optimist.

As much as the Leftists and CliSciFi profiteers would want it, battery technology is not even close to a Moore’s Curve. Balance of plant costs will not be going down because there is no technological changes to be leveraged. I am unaware of any battery technological advances beyond the speculation phase.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Dave Fair
February 26, 2023 9:10 am

In their July2022 report on ‘The Global Supply Chain of EV Batteries’ the IEA also said lithium prices had increased by over 700% between Jan 2021 and May 2022. They also noted that the average battery size had increased by 60% from 2015 to 2021 in the attempt to improve driving range.

Perhaps it was written by a different department to the October study 🙂

Dave Fair
Reply to  Dave Andrews
February 26, 2023 9:38 am

Only Leftist government ideologues could predict declining costs in the face of materials shortages and wildly inflated energy prices. That was the point of my comment in response to Mr. Mosher’s ideologically-driven trust in government propaganda. He apparently believes there are such things as free lunches.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Dave Fair
February 27, 2023 7:44 am

I should have also mentioned that in a Commentary on EVs dated 30th Jan 2022 the IEA also said that the world faces potential shortages of lithium and cobalt as early as 2025.

michael hart
Reply to  Steven Mosher
February 26, 2023 12:58 am

Standard tertiary literature. The references are drawn from the usual circle jerkalists.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Steven Mosher
February 26, 2023 5:07 am

Meanwhile back in the real world, Tesla has hiked its prices on grid scale Megapacks to around $500/kWh.

David Wojick
Reply to  Steven Mosher
February 26, 2023 9:51 am

Well Mosh, at today’s prices I get $175 trillion for batteries, just to replace today’s fossil generation with renewables. Given annual GDP is $22 trillion that looks like impossible to me.
See my

Kevin Kilty
February 25, 2023 3:00 pm

It is a good thought, David, the idea behind sufficient backup presents a thorny issue. I have been reading integrated resource plans (IRPs) from various utilities and owning generating assets designated as balancing authorities, and each one is slightly different and reveals more of the thinking behind their hand-waving.

Some of them, unnamed, write about wind+storage and battery+storage but include no details. At least no details that are not confidential.

The wind+storage turns out to be a small amount of storage, perhaps batteries or maybe pumped hydro, which doesn’t cover any significant fraction of the nameplate of the plant nor much of its likely capacity factor. In other words the expected load carry capacity (ELCC people like to use the term efffective rather than expected, but these are probabilistic estimates) doesn’t rise much. The ELCC is I think difficult to specify realistically in the first place.

When it comes to a public need/public convenience hearing what the power company is asking for is a blessing for constructing a wind plant and interconnection assets — storage not mentioned at all. PacifiCorp suggested the ELCC of Rock Creek I and II was around 10% of nameplate. I suspect setting a reasonable network capacity and then including the cost of storage needed to reach this capacity 97% of the time (an ELCC=97%) would stagger the public utility commission.

When it comes to solar+storage what people suggest, uniformly, is banks of colocated batteries. One of my acquaintenances in a large utility says they are thinking of 3 hours worth of storage — i.e. 60MWhr of useful battery delivery per 20MW solar plant. One IRP I read suggested ELCC=87.5% at four-hour batteries and 97% at eight hour batteries. Thus 3 hours wouldn’t even reach 87.5%.

An ELCC of 97% still leaves a plant naked for something like 260 hours per year — way short of the one-day in ten years standard common among utilities. And I don’t think people are yet looking at realistic (i.e. the 99.99% level) of weather-related loads.

To have rate-payers cover these costs is going to blow up the renewables are cheaper narrative.

Ed Reid
Reply to  Kevin Kilty
February 25, 2023 3:33 pm

…and, it’s about time.

Kevin Kilty
Reply to  Ed Reid
February 25, 2023 4:46 pm

I should clarify, Ed, that the ELCC for solar does not contemplate covering the dark portion of the day when solar doesn’t operate at all, but rather only those 6-8 hours of effective energy production. There has to be something else covering the other 14-18 hours. Another mystery.

Ed Reid
Reply to  Kevin Kilty
February 26, 2023 4:23 am

New York solves that problem with Dispatchable Emission-Free Resources (DEFRs). They do not however, identify what those resources are, so they are likely “vaporware”.

CAUTION: Don’t begin vast programs with half-vast ideas.:

Reply to  Kevin Kilty
February 26, 2023 1:20 am

As a general rule of thumb I expect goobermint bureaucrats to be mainly leftists, and I expect leftists to ruin everything they touch. That rule of thumb has been very reliable so far … unfortunately. It certainly applies to the Bidet Maladministration, with the infamous Biden Cabinet of Incompetents.

Leftists are currently working on ruining electric grids. Sometimes leftists in the deep state say things that make sense, but expecting them to do things that makes sense is usually disappointing.

As a result, I have low confidence that FERC will do the right thing for electric grids in the long run, which would mean getting in the way of the “transition”.

Where was FERC when Texas was overbuilding windmills from 2022 to 2021? They regulate ERCOT in Texas too.

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard Greene
David Wojick
Reply to  Richard Greene
February 26, 2023 12:32 pm

They do have a rulemaking in progress to constrain renewables, at least a little bit. If we can get a Republican President they might do more. Reliability is their mission.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Kevin Kilty
February 26, 2023 9:46 am

How can any governmental (public) institution make public policy that obligates taxpayers and ratepayers based on confidential (secret) information? “Proprietary information” hell; its just an excuse to hide unpleasant facts about the unreliability of governments’ ideologically-based decisionmaking.

Frank from NoVA
February 25, 2023 3:49 pm

It wasn’t that long ago that FERC issued orders to open access to transmission systems and encourage the formation of regional transmission and independent service operators to coordinate the activities of transmission owners. Seems they could do something similar for generation that would guarantee a level playing field for dispatch into the grids, including penalties for non-performance. No need for complication, just create a level playing field for dispatch and performance that incentivizes the owners of intermittent generation (wind and solar) to make private arrangements for adequate storage and.or backup such that their energy bids into the grid truly reflect the cost of reliability.

Ed Reid
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
February 25, 2023 3:53 pm

But, they wouldn’t be “cheaper” anymore. (sarc off)

February 25, 2023 3:56 pm

unfortunately instead of adding dispatchable energy sources when wind and solar is added to the grid, they seem to decrease the dispatchable sources. It is sort of a lose lose senario.

Reply to  largolarry
February 26, 2023 1:27 am

Thinking like a leftist, by deleting reason and accountability, they will claim the dispatchable power sources will be backup for the windmills and solar panels. After the windmills and solar panels are built, they will close more and more dispatchable of those power sources … until there are blackouts.

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard Greene
David Wojick
Reply to  Richard Greene
February 26, 2023 12:35 pm

Yes but what happens then? Energy has yet to become a major political issue but it cannot be avoided, the way things are going. The bubble has to burst at some point and we are getting there.

Rick C
February 25, 2023 4:15 pm

It’s a “Catch-22” situation – to assure a stable grid you must have sufficient dispatchable backup to provide 100% of demand when wind/solar/batteries are unable to. But if you have 100% dispatchable capacity it is far less expensive to use it than to build all the unreliables in the first place. Even if the massive build out of wind and solar continues, it will soon become clear that as these sources break down it will be more economical to just run the backup than repair/replace the wind and solar equipment. But economic reality is just too hard for politicians – after all they think $31 Trillion in debt is sustainable.

Reply to  Rick C
February 26, 2023 1:10 am

$31 trillion of debt is sustainable
No nation ever pays down their debt
They pay interest on the debt
And reduce the purchasing power of their debt with inflation

US interest on the current debt is about 3% of GDP. compared with about 5% of GDP in the 1985 to 1990 period. 3% of GDP is easily sustainable.

The important issue is usually not how the government gets money — the important issue is what the money is spent on. Nut Zero, of course, would be a total waste of money.

When the Fed managed interest rates to very low levels, it was wise financially for the US Treasury to borrow money rather than raising taxes. Not so wise to borrow with the current higher interest rates.

Politicians love to spend money
Spending buys votes
But taxpayers hate higher taxes
So politicians borrow as much money as they can rather than raising taxes
If they are clever politicians they borrow more and cut taxes
People love that.

Unprecedented in peacetime borrowing happened in 2020 when Trump was president, and in 2021 and 2022 when Bidet is president.

The Federal Reserve Bank bought a lot of open market Treasury bonds in 2020 and 2021, using credit created out of thin air. Fed purchases offset the new bonds sold to the public by the US Treasury. The result: The highest inflation rate in 40 years.

End of tedious economics lecture. I used to write a finance and economics newsletter or 43 years and the subject interests me. .

Rick C
Reply to  Richard Greene
February 26, 2023 7:52 am

When you have to continually borrow more money to pay the interest on the debt you already have you are headed for bankruptcy. At some point your creditors will demand to be paid back.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Rick C
February 26, 2023 9:55 am

Not if the creditors are smart. Smart creditors will just recycle that debt at higher interest rates; the return on the lending is the reason creditors lend money (buy bonds).

Dave Fair
Reply to  Richard Greene
February 26, 2023 10:01 am

Richard, I appreciate your expertise and generally agree with you. My only quibble is that “sustainable” doesn’t mean no negative impacts on ordinary citizens. Even with an economics minor and some experience in electric system finance, however, I am ill equipped to argue economics and finance.

Reply to  Rick C
February 26, 2023 1:25 am

“It’s a “Catch-22” situation”

It’s not Catch 22 — it’s simple logic:

The electric grids were not broken.

They didn’t need to be fixed.

Every bird and bat shredder, and every solar pane, is overbuild, supplementing an electric grid that did not need supplements.

February 25, 2023 4:15 pm

In fact the kind of analysis needed in order to define sufficient backup amounts to part of basic planning. 

If only the breathless eager preachers of this ever-so-cheap windandsolar manna from heaven had ever learned anything about power grids other than ‘oil companies bad, Science good’, this idea of backup power for intermittent generators wouldn’t send them into such tantrums when it enters the discussion. And other little details they’ve never heard of, such as the synchronization of alternating currents entering at different times and amplitudes.

Learning practical stuff is hard. They should try it some time.

February 25, 2023 4:54 pm

Obviously intermittent generators need dispatchable generators as backup,

It is only obvious if intermittent generators are permitted to connect under different conditions to dispatchable generators.

The beginning and end of the problem is permitting connection under different standards of reliability.

No generator should be permitted to connect unless they can guarantee dispatchable capacity at least above 90% of the time and meet schedule capacity 99% or better – hefty fine if they fail to meet schedule. For example, if you have a wind turbine rated at 5MW you cannot connect unless you have a dispatchable source that can produce your nominated nameplate power to meet peak demand. If your gas turbine is 3MW then that is the maximum you are permitted to schedule. Battery capacity of limited duration can only come into the equation for peak lopping. They must retain full capacity ahead of the nominated period of peak demand.

What exists now is a giant Ponzi that is a heavy economic impost on dispatchable generators. The only potential economic benefit of wind and solar in a predominantly fossil fuel and/or nuclear system is fuel saving. They do not offer any reliable capacity. The proponents of wind and solar need to bear the cost of their intermittency, not the rest of the system.

The solution is simple for FERC. Anyone can connect providing they meet the same standard of reliability for on-demand power during peak demand. If you do not meet your schedule your fine is a factor of say 10 of the settled price for the period you missed.

The introduction of semi-scheduled capacity on the NEM in Australian has been a massive burden for consumers.

So anyone in the USA feeling inclined to make a submission then it is not complicated. Provide capacity on demand or you cannot connect.

I agree with David on this. I hope he makes a submission.

Australia provides a great example of the added cost of intermittency. You only need to look at how the FCAS costs have evolved. It is nuts that the consumers are being asked to carry these costs in addition to the exorbitant government sponsored theft in the form of LGCs and STCs. Then more transmission lines, stronger distribution networks, synchronous condensers battery price arbitrage, high administration costs due to the growing complexity.

Last edited 1 month ago by RickWill
Tom Abbott
February 25, 2023 7:07 pm

From the article: “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is taking comments on ways to limit the damage that renewables can do to grid reliability.”

Here’s my comment: Stop building any more windmills.

Nick Stokes
February 25, 2023 7:38 pm

This proposal has a major ambiguity. Does it mean

  1. New wind generators would have to prove that sufficient backup exists on the grid? Or
  2. New wind generators would have to provide the backup generation themselves, regardless of whether it is needed?
Dave Fair
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 25, 2023 8:22 pm

This is not a binary issue, Nick. Another possibility is ruinables could submit contracts with other entities to provide the support.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Dave Fair
February 25, 2023 8:35 pm

The question is, what does the proposal require?

Dave Fair
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 25, 2023 11:05 pm

Only a government gobblygook soothsayer could answer that. Then it would most likely be incorrect. Both my wife and youngest daughter are tax experts, with the daughter working for Intuit (Turbo Tax). I forget the error rate of IRS responses to citizens’ tax questions but it is in the 50% range. BTW, if you follow their advice in filling out your tax return and it is incorrect, you are at fault.

Only 10% of the calls to the IRS are currently getting through at all.

Last edited 1 month ago by Dave Fair
Nick Stokes
Reply to  Dave Fair
February 26, 2023 12:53 am

Only a government gobblygook soothsayer could answer that. “
I was hoping David Wojick could answer it. It is his proposal.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 26, 2023 9:32 am

He is hardly the first to make it. Prof Dieter Helm, for example, back in 2017:

He makes the point that the mechanism doesn’t need to be precise to have the desired effect.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  It doesnot add up
February 26, 2023 3:55 pm

Thanks, that is an interesting report. But I can’t see much resemblance to the Wojick proposal. He doesn’t at all like the mirror image scheme of ROC’s, which he says should be retired ASAP. What he does like are the capacity auctions, which had recently resumed. But these do not place any particular obligations on renewables generators, although they are unlikely to win at auction.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 26, 2023 4:09 pm

Try reading it. He calls for contracts for effective firm power that would require renewables to team up with dispatchable generation.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  It doesnot add up
February 26, 2023 4:44 pm

I have read it. He recommends an extension of the capacity auctions, not as with the Wojick scheme a limit on entry to the market.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 26, 2023 6:41 pm

No, you didn’t read it. p 192

In an EFP single unified auction for capacity, those that cause system costs will have to bear them. Intermittent generators will have to seek contracts to back up their intermittency so they can offer EFP to the system to improve their de-rating factor. They have the advantage of holding better and more detailed information about their technology and costs.

David Wojick
Reply to  Dave Fair
February 26, 2023 12:47 pm

I propose a certification by the relevant utility. No payment is implied but it still might happen. If you need a certification in order to build your project you might have to pay for it. But to my knowledge there is presently no charge for an interconnection approval.

Dave Fair
Reply to  David Wojick
February 26, 2023 12:51 pm

David, does that apply to system changes necessitated by the interconnection?

David Wojick
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 26, 2023 12:44 pm

I specifically propose just a certification process. No payment is implied but it might come to pass.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 26, 2023 12:24 am

The essence of what he is proposing is that all suppliers should meet the same standards, and that these should be those that are currently met by conventional generation.

So whatever these are. People in the thread talk about 85% or 90% uptime. Maybe specified amounts of scheduled downtime for maintenance, with the same notice period. Whatever it is, all suppliers, the proposal is, should supply the same product to the same parameters.

Need to ban the provision of intermittent power, which is useless and only has a market because of mandatory purchases forcing the buyer to cover the costs of making it marginally usable. Or, put it another way, stop obliging network operators to accept intermittent power, as is done in the UK by the renewables obligation.

They will then insist on dispatchable, and its all over for wind.

Companies can use whatever technology they want, as long as it delivers the same product.

The same thing comes up with LCOE as a measure of cost. Make the product supplied the same before making cost comparisons.

But the essential point is, the activists are in denial about the real cost of intermittency. What’s needed is to make these costs transparent, and put them squarely on the financial statements of the wind operators. If they can’t deliver dispatchable at a competitive cost using wind, let them eat gas. Or superheated coal.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  michel
February 26, 2023 1:05 am

The essence of what he is proposing is that all suppliers should meet the same standards, and that these should be those that are currently met by conventional generation.”

I was hoping someone might know the words of what he is proposing.

In fact conventional generators are not required to meet such a standard. They can bid to provide power whenever they feel like it. Which generally means when the price suits them.

The distinction is an important one. Requiring new wind to demonstrate that the grid has enough power to cope with their wind-lull absence is reasonable, but rather easy. It was managing without them before.

Requiring them to provide backup for their own production is foolish, and would probably be strenuously opposed by existing generators. If the backup is gas, as it probably would be, and if there was enough gas before, then the excess creates a glut. And since the new generators are sustained by the fuel-free wind power that they can sell, it is the existing gas generators that will be forced out of business.

Ed Reid
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 26, 2023 4:33 am

Please remember that the Administration intends to force all fossil generation off the grid – coal by 2030 and gas by 2035. That would mean no gas backup for new renewables either.

Bring on the DEFRs.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 26, 2023 4:48 am

Nick, you are willfully blind. Your statement:

Requiring new wind to demonstrate that the grid has enough power to cope with their wind-lull absence is reasonable, but rather easy. It was managing without them before.”

The fact that the grid was “managing without them before” implies that the same sources remain available. You and everyone else knows that is not happening. Dispatchable sources are being continually closed because they can not be profitable when only providing backup.

You can continue to be stupid or you can tell us what happens when the last large dispatchable sources are closed. The only long term backup at that point will be natural gas plants which only adds to the cost of unreliable generators.

In fact conventional generators are not required to meet such a standard.”

I don’t know about where you live, but generators in the U.S. have substantial uptime requirements greater than 99%. This can only be met with careful planning for performing maintenance and for nuclear, for refueling at periods when other plants can carry the load. Of course transmission uptimes are not as stringent due to natural occurrences such as tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.

I’ll tell you what, what don’t you write a letter to the editor of some publication outlining a plan whereby all gasoline/diesel stations, EV charging stations, grocery store freezers, and home medical devices like oxygen generators and IV’s must go dark for five unannounced days a year to practice for such occurrences in the future. One of the five occurrences must be two days in length during the winter. What do you think the response will be?

Reply to  Jim Gorman
February 26, 2023 8:52 am

No response from Nick.

Why does Nick hate poor people so much. Your response highlights the fact that there is and never was any need for wind or solar in the first place, thus all the expense for the installation and interconnection of wind and solar has only raised the overall cost of electrical generation, and baseline increased costs like for electrical power disproportionally negatively effect the poor.

Yes, Nick and ALL unreliable electrical generation supporters really do hate the poor.

BTW, Nick has never defended himself from this accusation. Of course he has no defense. His support of FREE electricity from wind due to NO FUEL COSTS ignores all other costs of wind, including the cost of backup, which Nick demands the existing grid to provide, which of course means the wind generation installation were NEVER required.All GREEN demands such as unreliable generation and highly subsidized EVs are a net LOSS to societal wealth since the resources wasted on these @sshat psudo-technological advancements could have been used to actually improve the lives of ALL the world’s population. Leftists hate PEOPLE. See Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler, etc.

All GREEN demands such as unreliable generation and highly subsidized EVs are a net LOSS to societal wealth since the resources wasted on these @sshat pseudo-technological “advancements” could have been used to actually improve the lives of ALL the world’s population. Leftists hate PEOPLE. See Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler, etc.

Last edited 1 month ago by Drake
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 26, 2023 8:13 am

“Requiring them to provide backup for their own production is foolish, and would probably be strenuously opposed by existing generators”

No, its just requiring them to deliver a usable product. Yes, they will object. Because once they have to deliver a fully comparable product they will be way over priced against coal and gas.

Look at the lower right chart in this link. last year generation by the day averages. Its obvious that this is not a fit for purpose product as it stands. It has to be supplemented by gas, constraint payments and it also has to have lots of investment in transmission. The only reason anyone buys this is the renewables obligation. Just abolish that and all other wind subsidies, and no-one would ever build any wind.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 26, 2023 12:16 pm

You miss the whole point of the discussion, Nick. Ruinables are being backed up now but the ruinables generators are not paying for it. If the backup they must arrange for and pay is gas-fired, that gas is already being used; there will be no glut.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 26, 2023 8:06 am

He is proposing the second.

The simplest way to implement would be to have a free market in power. Abolish all wind subsidies and all renewables obligations.

Then if you are right, and a combination of wind and gas is the least costly generating method, operators will install it and win the bids.

I think we both know they will not.

David Wojick
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 26, 2023 12:42 pm

I describe a certification process, so the renewable owners do not have to provide the backup. But the backup owners might in fact charge them. All the ISOs except ERCOT presently have capacity markets, which might come into play under a certification scenario.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  David Wojick
February 26, 2023 2:46 pm


February 25, 2023 7:58 pm

If an intermittent generator tries to sign up with a fixed capacity back-up such as a battery, FERC should reject it on the grounds that in a prolonged wind/solar outage the supply will fail. Only a fuel-based back-up can qualify.

Ed Reid
Reply to  Mike Jonas
February 26, 2023 4:43 am

…but the whole intent is to eliminate fuel-based generation.

Paul Johnson
February 25, 2023 8:27 pm

Isn’t ERCOT trying to address it this way?

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Paul Johnson
February 26, 2023 9:41 am

Sort of. The proposed mechanism is retrospective as I understand it. Useful write-up here:

Martin Brumby
February 25, 2023 8:33 pm

Different Countries have different ways of doing things. Which is great.

Most ways of obtaining electrical power for a Grid to distribute this power to customers, domestic or industrial, boil down to purchasing electricity from Generators, subject to a set of agreed rules.

It should be noted that you couldn’t legally insist that the Generator had a particular skin colour, religious belief, or whatever. Quite rightly.

I propose that any Grid / Distributor should be similarly “blind” to how “Generators” produce electricity. If they run a legal Nuclear Power Plant, or have huge teams of happy GangGreen cyclists pounding away on captive bicycles with dynamos, no matter.

But they should purchase absolutely nothing without a guarantee that they can AND WILL provide a certain amount of electrical energy whenever it is needed.

Let the Nuclear Plant come to a deal with the cyclists to provide “cover” fot the odd refueling or inspection or breakdown or whatever. Let the Cyclists contract with the Nuclear Plant, or whoever, to provide power when the cyclists need to have a break to eat their crickets, or whatever. All that should be up to Generators.

But the Grid needs to have some really beefy powers in all their Contracts with Generators that the contracted power is ALWAYS available. At the contracted price. Very stiff penalties. The kind of penalties that the CCP might insist upon. (That is perhaps the ONLY thing we should use that comes from China.)

Any other concept for managing Grids is mad. As we have already noticed.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Martin Brumby
February 25, 2023 8:58 pm

“But the Grid needs to have some really beefy powers in all their Contracts with Generators that the contracted power is ALWAYS available. At the contracted price.”

That isn’t going to please anyone. The grid fixes the price over some long period of time? We have a market for good reason. The variable price ensures that supply meets variable demand.

So do customers have no option but to pay the contracted price? Even if cheaper electricity is available?

Or are they allowed to but the cheaper electricity? Where does that leave the supplier who has a contract?

I think you are right. This is a CCP central planning proposal.

Any other concept for managing Grids is mad. As we have already noticed.”

Actually grids are working very well.

Martin Brumby
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 26, 2023 2:21 am

I never wrote a word about pricing mechanisms, even less did I suggest that this should be at some ‘fixed’ price. A silly idea.

In fact the only point I would add is that if a Generator produces large quantities of Electricity when it is not needed (e.g. Big Wind), then they must bear the practical and cost consequences themselves.

“Grids are working very well”. Maybe they have done so far, if you don’t care about how much it has cost already, and will cost if future.

And there have already been some alarming ‘wobbles’, as those watching the man walking along a wire stretched over the Niagara falls, noted.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Martin Brumby
February 26, 2023 2:32 am

 even less did I suggest that this should be at some ‘fixed’ price”
You said, as I quoted
“At the contracted price.”

then they must bear the practical and cost consequences themselves.”

They do. There is a market operating. In those circumstances, they will earn a very low price. Maybe negative. Conversely people who can produce in times of shortage will get very good prices. That is their incentive.

You want to override the market.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 26, 2023 5:27 am

You want to destroy the market. Anywhere where intermittent penetration increases too far the market has to be overridden. As it has been in South Australia.

Reply to  It doesnot add up
February 26, 2023 8:48 am

The answer is, deregulate and see if anyone buys wind, and if so under what terms. If Nick is right then operators who run a combination of wind and gas backup will clean up. They will be the lowest cost producers.

I think we all know they won’t.

The wilfull blindness, amounting to denial, of the climate activists/alarmists on the subject of intermittency is really weird. You just have to look at the information on the UK, available in real time, to see that this is not a technology that can power an industrial economy. In fact I am not sure it can power any economy with electricity. And that’s before you add in heat pumps and EVs.

Its fine for drainage because you don’t need constant pumping. But to power a modern economy and society? Whether you think there is a climate emergency or not, wind just doesn’t cut it.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  michel
February 26, 2023 1:10 pm

The wilfull blindness, amounting to denial, of the climate activists/alarmists on the subject of intermittency is really weird.”

No, the wilful blindness is of those who deny the dominant role of the cost of fuel. W&S don’t have any. The cot is huge, and any costs of intermittency are small in comparison.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 26, 2023 2:14 pm

Henry Hub closed around $2.50/MMBtu on Friday. That’s 0.85 cents per kWh as gas, and no more than 1.7 cents converted to electricity. I think you better learn to get out of your huge cot.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  It doesnot add up
February 26, 2023 5:31 pm

Well, TTF (NL) is running about $53 per MWh, which if you double for efficiency of generation, is $106. NBP seems to be about $60, making about $120/MWh elec. Current UK wholesale price for electricity is about $180/MWh. Seems to me gas price is a big part of that.

According to IEA, Henry Hub averaged $6.45/MMBtu in 2022. That is about $44/MWh elec. Not small.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 27, 2023 3:30 am

But cheaper than wind, by a long way

Reply to  It doesnot add up
February 26, 2023 11:50 pm

I think Nick’s argument could be made to work, perhaps, for a while. Its a gradual dilution of the position.

You start out arguing for wind and solar as the primary generation plant, using LCOE, thus ignoring all the costs of intermittency. To rescue the argument, you then move to advocating a system of gas supplemented by wind, and claim that the fuel savings will justify building out the wind.

This is going to fail, too. So the last refuge will be to argue that sunk costs are irrelevant (a commonplace of financial appraisal), and that as long as we have the wind, we should use it. Might be. Have to see the case, but its possible.

But the key question is about new builds. Is there any point in it, does it pay for itself in fuel savings, is it better financially as a total system than just building superheated coal?

I have never seen or heard of a study showing this. If Nick has, he has never pointed to it. But if we are making major changes to energy policy affecting the whole country, we need more than blind faith and hope. We need proper investment appraisal.

I should point out also that as the argument weakens the emission savings, which started out being the whole point of this idea, are reducing at every step. We are moving from wind, to wind with gas backup, to gas supplemented by wind. As we get to the last step the case either in emission reduction or money is getting weaker and weaker.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  michel
February 27, 2023 2:11 am

 As we get to the last step the case either in emission reduction or money is getting weaker and weaker.”
The cases are tightly coupled because fossil fuels 1) contain carbon and 2) cost a lot. But a favorite trick of sceptics is to argue for the 100% case first, and show difficulties. That is not how the world proceeds. At each stage, we should work out what to do next. And the “consensus” now is, for good reason, that if you can use W&S, do so. It displaces expensive fuels, and saves money. We already have the backup capacity with gas etc.

Later it may happen that backup generators may struggle. The “consensus”, with Dieter Helm, says they should be supported directly via capacity auctions, as currently happens in the UK .But the market carries most of the solution. When the wind is not blowing, prices are higher. So those who can then generate have two things in their favour; price, plus lower fuel cost. Of course, that goes with lower volume. However, if some do leave the market, prices in windless period will go even higher. For consumers, that is balanced by the lower prices when the wind is blowing. That price differential is how W&S bear the costs of intermittency.

It is better to reduce FF burning than to do nothing. And meanwhile other solutions will emerge. It has already been mentioned how Norway, by switching hydro on and off, acts as a capacious battery even without pumping (which will come). They also will make good money when the wind lulls. Pumped hydro will continue to spread; any place that has any kind of hydro scheme can incorporate it.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 27, 2023 7:06 am

Wrong. Wind and solar pay nothing towards the extra grid costs they cause, from connection and grid reinforcement through balancing and ramping costs. They are subsidised to produce, and they are subsidised not to produce.

What we have is government interference in markets to produce non-market outcomes, with no proper evaluation as to whether their destination is even ultimately feasible. If we were seeing purely market driven changes then we would not see any significant investment in renewables. Heading in the wrong direction, and later finding out that it doesn’t work is a very expensive way of doing things.

It is not true that any place with hydro can incorporate pumped hydro. For that you need both an upper and a lower reservoir, and the lower reservoir must not be the upper reservoir for the next hydro plant downstream, otherwise you are simply inefficiently stealing its input. It is highly doubtful whether it would be acceptable to salt the land by using the ocean as a lower reservoir – probably even in Australia. Moreover, the economics of storage deteriorate sharply with increasing duration and slower turnover. The use of storage as a replacement for dispatchable capacity that can operate for months between turnarounds is simply a green fantasy. The limits of Norway as a battery are already being reached, which is why Norway is now looking at restricting exports and not building more interconnectors.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 26, 2023 11:42 pm

I understand you believe this. But you have never given or pointed to any study which gives quantitative evidence for it.

Its implausible, partly because of the scale of the intermittency deficiencies, partly because if you remedy intermittency by using gas backup you then make the gas generation much less efficient so you don’t lower fuel costs as much as might be hoped. Its also implausible because of the total capital and maintenance costs of installing wind. And finally there are the constraint payments.

The proposal which you’re advocating for electricity supply is to install duplicate capacity of gas generation and wind. The gas generation will itself be adequate to meet demand in a week long calm, and will be switched in and out to cope with the usual daily fluctuations.

The claim is that because of fuel savings this will be cheaper than just installing gas or coal.

I don’t believe it, absent evidence. But without any evidence you are proposing to make major changes to the way the whole grid works. If your idea doesn’t work the social and economic costs will be huge. We need more evidence that it will work and do what you say it will than a simple assertion.

We used to have a grid that worked pretty well. In the UK, as November showed, the attempt to replace large chunks of it with wind and solar has led to it teetering on the brink of mass blackouts during cold calm winters. It doesn’t do much better in hot calm summers. And in November it was only rescued by astronomically high cost purchases from Europe.

If you are proposing to take this one stage further, to increase the wind and increase the gas to match, and are promising this will result in lower total costs than rebuilding the coal infrastructure, you have to show or point to some numbers.

Martin Brumby
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 26, 2023 11:41 am

I did not say “at the fixed contracted price”.

I did not say “at the contracted price which will be fixed”.

I said nothing whatever about the pricing arrangements built into the contract.

So this is your straw man. Nothing to do with what I wrote.

As a matter of fact, the UK Grid does presently operate on prices that are fixed for 30 minutes. Any Generator supplying any energy in this 30 minute slot gets the maximum fixed price. This has been up to $10,000 per MWhr., imported from Belgium.

Coal fired generation used to get £30 – £35 per MWhr.

I want the people who set up this ludicrous system charged with gross malfeasance in Public Office. And their apologists and promoters, like you, Mr. Stokes, investigated for corruption.

Reply to  Martin Brumby
February 26, 2023 11:52 pm

Nick is wrong, on energy as on many matters regarding climate. Perhaps guilty of wishful thinking, as so many climate apologists are. But you’ve no reason to accuse him of being corrupt.

February 25, 2023 9:13 pm

“Wind droughts are common pretty much everywhere.” It’s not just wind droughts that need to be considered. We’ve just had yet another winter storm pass through Southern California, and we’ve experienced high winds and impressive gusts. Wind turbines have to shut down in high-wind conditions also.

February 26, 2023 12:28 am

I think it could be made more simple: generators that wish to be connected to the Grid should provide as a minimum 90% of its rated generation nameplate capacity. That means the unreliables have to provide that difference from the defined capacity during variable conditions of output. The costs of so doing would be assessed against other competing generation systems.
Given the primacy demanded by governments of unreliables, true costs will become apparent to users who, in turn, can vote that government in or out depending upon the impacts on their wants.

Reply to  Sapper2
February 26, 2023 1:30 am

Peaker gas plants can’t meet the 90% target

Ed Reid
Reply to  Richard Greene
February 26, 2023 4:38 am

…but they are dispatchable.

Reply to  Sapper2
February 26, 2023 11:55 pm

Not percent of nameplate, that’s irrelevant. What you want is commitment to delivering the amount they are bidding to supply to the same parameters as coal or gas running alone. Whether its 10% or 90% of nameplate is immaterial. The requirement has to be, say how much you are going to deliver, then deliver it. Whatever the state of the wind.

February 26, 2023 12:43 am

What the FERC can do, and what the FERC will do, are different. FERC stands in the way of new pipelines, but not in the way of new solar and wind farms.

There is plenty of existing backup when the percentage of unreliables is small … but there is also political pressure to close coal plants, not build more coal plants, eventually close nuclear plants, not build more nuclear reactors, and avoid building new natural gas plants. It would seem unlikely that FERC will think like engineers and scientists during the political Nut Zero process. 

Where was the FERC when Texas was overbuilding windmills with natural gas backup that could not perform in extremely cold weather? The Texas cold weather problem was known in February 2011 when 3.2 million Texans lost power during rolling blackouts. Building lots of windmills without optional deicers in the next ten years only made that problem worse. And it was worse in February 2021 when the next extremely cold weather hit Texas.

Section 215 of the FPA, which provides FERC authority over electric reliability on the bulk power system, also includes authority over ERCOT in Texas.

The 100% backup needed for solar and wind might exist currently in most states, but coal and nuclear plants are being closed or used for a declining percentage of the time than they are available for use.

100% backup is rejected by green dreamers because they hate coal and nuclear power and will oppose new gas plants too. Batteries are too expensive.

Proof of the need for 100% backup will only come as utilities reach their Flounder Limit. That is a high enough percentage of unreliables so that supplying electricity to meet demand becomes likely to founder. 

When a utility reaches its Flounder Limit, they soon will be begging their customers to reduce demand, using rolling blackouts to reduce demand or having unexpected blackouts.

Unreliables can’t be expected to have much output at the hours of peak demand from the Duck Curve — bad weather condition hours for wind and solar will sometimes coincide with peak electricity demand hours. If 100% natural gas spinning reserve backup is not available for a fast reaction time, there will be blackouts.

When we have had enough blackouts in the US, the politicians who promoted Nut Zero will finally get pushed out of office.

Having just suffered through a 35 hour blackout here in SE Michigan, with the house down to 55 degrees F. when it ended, I know people will reject Nut Zero after enough blackouts. Until then, Nut Zero will continue until the money runs out.

There is no climate crisis
There will not be a climate crisis
Therefore, Nut Zero is not needed.
Nut zero is not based on science or engineering

Nut Zero is used for political power and control of the private sector. That power and control is desired by politicians and bureaucrats Therefore, Nut Zero will continue, and the FERC bureaucrats, unfortunately, will have no interest in stopping the political power and control process called Nut Zero
Honest Climate Science and Energy

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard Greene
February 26, 2023 1:00 am

Simple way to put the point. Intermittency has a cost. Its the cost of making the intermittent supply dispatchable, because raw intermittent generation is unusable. Wind particularly because its both intermittent and unpredictable. Solar rather more usable because its intermittent but fairly predictable. But its intermittency is no better because night. And because winter in northern countries.

Someone has to pay that costt. Right now its a confusing mixture of the wholesale buyer, the end user and the taxpayer.

If you apply the same standards to all suppliers to the grid regardless of what technology they use then wind will start out with a supply looking like this:

See the bottom left chart especially.

So someone has to pay to make it perform to the same standard of regularity and predictability as conventional generation. The logical player is the generator. Just have them all meet the same specification. Then wind operators will have to install gas, batteries, pumped hydro, whatever. Also voltage regulation. Also transmission capacity. Solar operators similarly.

Fine, if they can do this, deliver to the same spec, and make money, then they’ll get the business. If not, not.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  michel
February 26, 2023 1:25 am

Simple way to put the point. Intermittency has a cost. Its the cost of making the intermittent supply dispatchable, because raw intermittent generation is unusable.”
W&S are not unusable. Lots of people are using it right now.

It has a cost, but you need to quantify that. It isn’t what you say here. In fact the cost is that in times of wind lull, the price jumps, and consumers ultimately pay that. But that is the time that the gas generators make good money, which enables them to stay in business, despite being unable to compete with wind when it is blowing. At that time, consumers benefit from cheap electricity.

Martin Brumby
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 26, 2023 2:48 am

Nick, I’ve no idea if in some states in the USA, “consumers benefit from cheap electricity”.

But I can assure you that in the UK, consumers used to benefit from cheap and reliable electricity. But then came the Climate Change Act 2008 and pretty soon the Coal industry was closed down. Then Gas and Nuclear provided more expensive but reliable energy before our Beloved Leaders encouraged, mandated, contractual arrangements whereby Ruinable Energy use was compulsory (when even available) and ALL costs and risks were put on consumers.

Ed Reid
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 26, 2023 4:41 am

Please list utility or ISO/RTO service areas in which renewables have reduced consumer rates.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 26, 2023 5:25 am

But we know that doesn’t work. Trying to rely on that gave Texas its blackout, because there wasn’t enough capacity to cope with low wind output. Wind cannibalises the market, and ultimately even itself.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  It doesnot add up
February 26, 2023 9:51 am

The reason there wasn’t enough capacity in Texas was that the cold had knocked out gas generation. And yes, wind could not expand to fill the gap. But they would have been no better off without wind turbines.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 26, 2023 10:12 am

There was never enough capacity. They anticipated demand of 75GW and only had 69GW theoretically available to meet it. Had they not had wind turbines, that capacity would have been available instead of shuttered.

The gas generation was knocked out in the first instance by a cascading trip with frequency falling to 59.3Hz, at which point automated load shedding was triggered. There was no available capacity margin.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 26, 2023 11:57 am

The cold knocked out gas generation because the pumps and valves had been changed to work from the electric grid instead of local nat gas powered generators. When the grid died because of the wind and solar crapping out those pumps and valves wouldn’t work any longer!!

If nat gas had remained the power source at the pump stations the gas would have continued to flow!!

It’s why my residential generators are either nat gas or propane. When the electricity goes out and the local gas stations can’t pump gas I’ll still be sitting pretty!

Reply to  Tim Gorman
February 27, 2023 6:24 am

The cold knocked out gas generation because the pumps and valves had been changed to work from the electric grid instead of local nat gas powered generators.”

Sorry Mr. Gorman. The biz will never go back to pneumatic controls. Too expensive, too unreliable, not remotely monitorable. If you don’t believe me, aks the wife of any west Texas pumper, who has a garage full of failed Kimray valves and pumps, when she thinks he’ll get around to rebuilding them. And as for the “big knockout”, it could have been easily stemmed by reprioritization.

To regress as suggested here, would require a YUGE natural gas to electric capacity increase in any case. The common sense alternative is to gird up the present infrastructure for extreme events, and then to expand it as little or as much as necessary.

But to bone throw, I have no problem with adding those incremental costs to the W&S tab. Both for the Big Gird, and for subsequent stand by costs. I am confident that the bottom line would be for W&S – even without consideration of how far to the left the lower gas demand would push the natural gas price/demand curve.

Reply to  Tim Gorman
February 28, 2023 2:59 pm

“If nat gas had remained the power source at the pump stations the gas would have continued to flow!!”

Way wrong. Field units use less well conditioned natural gas, and there was little in the way of special mods to keep them on in these conditions. If grid power had been properly prioritized, the down time would have been greatly reduced.

“It’s why my residential generators are either nat gas or propane.”

Both fuels are highly conditioned. Residential gas can have no more than 0.5# of water/mmscf, compared to the 7#/mmscf required for field custody transfer (and the gas you claim will still be usable in extreme field conditions is often not even that dry). Residential gas also meets Wobbe standards, is sweet, and has been sheared of most higher ends. Propane is even cleaner and drier.

Last edited 26 days ago by bigoilbob
Dave Andrews
Reply to  Nick Stokes
February 26, 2023 9:39 am

“Consumers benefit from cheap electricity”

That must be why here in the UK our electricity bills have been rising ever since we were told that unreliables would benefit us by providing cheap electricity, are already at an all time high, and are going to rise even further in April 2023.

Nick you’re a good comedian, it’s just that your jokes are not that funny.

Last edited 1 month ago by Dave Andrews
David Wojick
Reply to  Dave Andrews
February 26, 2023 12:54 pm

Cheap electricity is a bygone era in most places.

February 26, 2023 2:25 am

“In order to be approved for interconnection an intermittent generator must have sufficient backup.” or alternatively, just use the backup for normal generation and save the renewables cost.

Tim Gorman
February 26, 2023 5:17 am

It will never happen but the entire electricity generation industry could be re-classed as being public utilities. Then each state could designate a “supplier of last resort” in the state that would be responsible for maintaining the grid in an operable condition even during wind and solar dropouts. Each generation entity franchised to operate in the state would be assessed an annual fee used to capitalize and maintain the “supplier of last resort”. The “supplier of last resort” would be free to use whatever generation methods they need, be it battery, nuclear, hydro, nat gas, oil, or coal.

It wouldn’t be easy to create such national and state legislation to implement such a setup but it *is* possible. And it would ensure the customers the best service at the lowest price.

Ed Reid
February 26, 2023 5:55 am

Just to add to the “fun”, the Administration push for “all-electric everything” would require a rough tripling of generation capacity (actual, not nameplate) and grid capacity, much of it added after fossil generation is supposed to be history.

The electric industry has been wishing for “all-electric everything” for decades, but: “Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.”

February 26, 2023 6:47 am

The simple rule is too simplistic.
The real problem is grid level electricity pricing going negative. The SouthWest Power Pool – which extends from about the Canadian border in the Central US down to North Texas – had zero or negative electricity prices 30% of the time in 2021. Texas’ ERCOT grid – which covers the rest of Texas not under the SPP, had 8% to 13% negative prices from 2008 to 2011 at which point Texas changed its mix to become much more responsive using natural gas. However, the ongoing increase of wind/solar is such that the ~1% negative pricing is now increasing again – and this is before the $369B in Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) PTC tax credits.
PTC tax credits are producer based – basically think of them as the same as per-gallon ethanol subsidies. It is a substantial increase in subsidies above all of the past ones which were ITC (installation tax credits, i.e. subsidies to install but not to produce).
It is very possible that massive solar/wind overbuilding due to IRA subsidies will make even natural gas peaker plants uneconomic to operate, even ignoring the likelihood that natural gas prices will increase going forward.

Ed Reid
February 26, 2023 10:55 am

Nick Stokes aggressively, if not persuasively, argues for the goal of the renewable developers, which is to DISPLACE the output of conventional generators with renewable output, when available, while taking no responsibility for the collateral damage they cause. However, that goal is overridden by the federal government goal to REPLACE conventional fossil generators with renewable generation. That goal, combined with “all-electric everything”, results in a grid with less than 10% nuclear, hydro, geothermal and biomass, unless something major changes for those sources. That 90+% renewable grid would require support for the periods when renewable generation is inadequate or unavailable. Some entity ultimately has to take responsibility for providing that support, though I can understand why the renewable developers would prefer to avoid that responsibility as they do now.

February 26, 2023 11:49 am

I am astonished that such a proviso does not already exist. I would add to that condition that “possible supply from interconnected cables cannot be used in the calculation”, since there is no guarantee that any such supply would be available at every time that it is needed.

Ed Reid
Reply to  mikelowe2013
February 26, 2023 11:58 am

…especially considering that all of the potential suppliers are operating the same intermittent renewable generators.

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