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12 hours ago, turbguy said:

Yes.  Can you describe some "shift in culture" that might have made a difference to operating ERCOT as it was designed and built?

Anything? 

I'll wait right here...

What CEO worth his stock options would simply be "operating ERCOT as it was designed and built?"?  The CEO's job is to make sure the big picture is identified and dealt with properly.  If there is a possibly HUGE event like what the world just saw in Texas, he should know about it being a possibility, he should make it his core issue in his daily job.  He/she should have come up with a plan to overhaul the system so it can't happen, and implement the plan.  Part of that responsibility is to guide the shareholders and subscribers through the overhaul: identify, quantify, costs vs risks, implementation.

If all the CEO is doing is collecting his paycheck and, most importantly, his stock options based on share price, then he is absolutely failing in his position and should be removed.  I'll give the man credit for not taking his $800k golden parachute: it was the right thing to do and it was high time he did the right thing.  The buck stops at the top.

I can only imagine the number of engineers, and you of all people should know this, that had to swallow policy and sweat a bad system.  Those are soul crushers, and you know it and I know it.

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8 hours ago, turbguy said:

Those are,indeed, SOME of the questions that need honest and truthful answers (no matter how much it might hurt an owner, a supplier, a Board member, or a politician).  AND ANSWERED IN THE MINUTIA! 

Else, it WILL happen again, no matter WHAT the "culture" is...

Are we after root causes, or just "heads"?

Would YOU accept the answer "Who Knows"?  I somewhat doubt that.

If so, you may want to examine being any part  of the industry.

Culture is a very real thing, in business and in government, and indeed in a household.  I know you know that, but I'll finish the comment. 

I can tell you from experience what a corrupt government does right down to the teachers in the government schools.  I can tell you that a bad culture at the top of a company washes down on every aspect of the company's business.  And in a household?  Did you ever walk into someone's living room for the first time and go "holy cow, look at this shixxole"?

Do you want to blame the government clerk?

Do you want to blame the engineers for no budget to upgrade reliability and safety?

Do you want to blame the children for doing what their parents do and teach by example?

No.  The CEO is paid well to make sure the big shit doesn't happen and that the company's growth is in line with reality.  He/she is highly compensated for extremely valuable leadership and when the company fails in any major way, it is he/she that has failed, at the cultural level, and usually gets the golden parachute anyway.  The only way that is not the case is if the CEO was in the middle of an overhaul and the shit hit the fan before he/she could get the ship righted.  I have read nothing that tells me that was the case here.

One last thing:  Why are you defending the CEO?  Why do you give a crap?  ALL of the investigations that you have rightly pointed out need to be done will in all likelihood be done.  With the CEO axed the staff gets the message that all is not as it was prior to the devastating event.  That staff will be what saves them from a next time, not the CEO that led the ship to the iceberg.

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14 hours ago, Coffeeguyzz said:

 

 

Way upthread, Mr. Clemmensen threw out an idea of having a new wind operator be required to also offer an OCGT as backup.

One of the state's regulatory bodies was actually considering that as a requirement for new wind approval. (Don't know how that worked out).

 

Perhaps a more practical alternative to this would be a commitment to install some battery storage to supplant a proportion of the wind farms output for a period of time. This would massively improve grid stability under all circumstances. For example if a large thermal plant tripped the batteries can come in at an instant and operate for an hour or two until reserve plant is bought into play. 

I go back to my original suggestion which is Texas will have at least several GW of emergency gensets at public buildings, hospitals, large factories. If these are bought into play earlier 9taking the demand off the grid) when the grid frequency starts to decay they can offset the situation and prevent a cascade. Diesel gen sets need to be periodically run so why not use as a short term reserve service. It lowers the costs for the owners (they get a capacity payment) and it lowers the investment  costs else where because you don't need to start building OCGT / large ICE gen sets to run once in a blue moon. 

This set up is routinely done elsewhere

Short term operating reserve (STOR) | National Grid ESO

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The ink spilled in talking about nature's attack on the Texas electric grid has been all over the place. Mostly germane, the jargon has at times been wild and inappropriate. It has ranged all the way from hacks mockingly blaming Texas for gross incompetence to well-informed and educated scientists and grid engineers compassionately offering suggestions and sharing data. Reading the New York Times and the Washington Post, for example, gives a lay person a much different gestalt than reading the Wall Street Journal. But so far not much if anything has been written about what is likely much more of an existential threat. 

From a senator's report, I understand that EMP (electromagnetic pulse) from a nuclear weapon detonated high above the United States is in the military strategy doctrine of China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. Of these, China is by far America's largest threat. That's not xenophobic, but fact, pure and simple. And if we ignore it, we could be falling into a Thucydides' Trap much larger than the one that has already subsumed the NBA.

Just as the extent of the economic, physical, and soul-crushing effects of Covid-19 very likely surprised and awed President Xi, we must assume that they also wakened him to the always-present fallback possibility of biological warfare--for hegemony if matters get grim enough. The utter chaos imposed by the second-largest state effectively losing its grid has not been lost on President Xi, either. Much longer in blackness and zero temperatures, crippled by roads and runways that were rendered unusable, and Texas would have begun a logarithmic decay: death by hypothermia, pestilence, loss of dialysis equipment and operating rooms, dehydration, starvation, even theft and murder by fathers desperate to keep their loves ones alive.

Texas is going to build back its grid system, and it will be much more redundant than before, and certainly equipped for the capacity demand of an ever-increasing population and the always-present nuances of severe weather. There will be blood--mostly at the top. A lot of engineers and lower-level workers very likely saw a vulnerable system and had to swallow bad policy designed by an old-boy club. This will be fixed. 

What I'm equally concerned about is an EMP. What happened to Texas could very well happen to massive swatches of the United States. According to administrative mandates bolstered by massive bribes barely masqueraded as incentives, we are about to quadruple electricity demand, more and more using power generated by wind and solar farms. EV charging is going ballistic. So is heating and cooling--but not from NG; instead, from electricity generated by "renewables." Ironically, with an average electricity distribution infrastructure of 35 years (dog years for power lines), we are entering a new and much-hyped "Decade of Electricity."

The threat of EMP has been around so long and we've become so comfortable in our belief that we could identify a weapon and destroy it before it hit our troposphere that it--in some ways--poses a "chilling" analogy to the recent weather event in Texas. Complacency is not our friend. Not when it comes to energy-security.

Our grids--yours and mine, no matter where we live--are vulnerable. And censorship, along with the continuous barrage by thought police telling us what is politically-incorrect or xenophobic, made all the worse by tiptoeing by our president and his Secretaries of State and Defense, will only make grid-security more questionable. It is a time to be nice to people, but vigilant. The world--no matter if we kill off Dr. Seuss and the rest of his ilk--is a dangerous place. 

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(edited)

On 2/27/2021 at 5:54 PM, Ward Smith said:

@NickW blithely commented many pages ago that we ought to build one 500MW gas power plant for every 500MW of wind generation (paraphrased). I criticized that, naturally, but when you've become indoctrinated into the clown world that is the EU things that make no economic sense become de rigeur. So why not build a massively underutilized generating system, raising the cost of power for all, all in the name of "green"? I mean, if you just built the gas plant you'd be $Billions ahead! The electricity produced would be dirt cheap and reliable! Logic, common sense? Thought crimes now. 

Did I?

I have said time and time again which seems to fly past you along with the fairies and pixies....

The back up needed in Texas is already sitting there in the form of emergency Gen sets at hospitals, public buildings, large factories etc. All it needs is to be is tied into the system so that ERCOT can call on it as the grid frequency starts to decay to prevent a cascade failure.

  • No need for any more generating plant investment (may need to moderately increase fuel storage) 
  • The owners of the emergency gensets get to offset some of their costs for equipment they have to buy anyway (win-win)
  • Emergency gensets need to be periodically run to cycle through the diesel so why not use this to strengthen grid resilience
  • Lots of smaller units reduce the risk from  one sudden failure / failure to start
  • Lots of smaller units spread across the state  allow the operator to bring into play and stand down the exact number of units needed and in the locations where they are needed. 

 

There is a lot I'd criticise the EU for but on the issue of electricity supply and security they are miles ahead of the USA.

 

Edited by NickW
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53 minutes ago, NickW said:

Did I?

I have said time and time again which seems to fly past you along with the fairies and pixies....

The back up needed in Texas is already sitting there in the form of emergency Gen sets at hospitals, public buildings, large factories etc. All it needs is to be is tied into the system so that ERCOT can call on it as the grid frequency starts to decay to prevent a cascade failure.

  • No need for any more generating plant investment (may need to moderately increase fuel storage) 
  • The owners of the emergency gensets get to offset some of their costs for equipment they have to buy anyway (win-win)
  • Emergency gensets need to be periodically run to cycle through the diesel so why not use this to strengthen grid resilience
  • Lots of smaller units reduce the risk from  one sudden failure / failure to start
  • Lots of smaller units spread across the state  allow the operator to bring into play and stand down the exact number of units needed and in the locations where they are needed. 

There is a lot I'd criticise the EU for but on the issue of electricity supply and security they are miles ahead of the USA.

Apologies for the misattributed comment. I got you and @Dan Clemmensen mixed up a bit. He commented back and I'd assumed you saw that, my bad.

The EU interties are interesting and it is clear that king coal is holding the fort over there, keeping the grid stable while politicians take bows and claim green supremacy. French nuclear is also helping. I'm intrigued in your idea of emergency sharing and we discussed it at length before. Absent laws and major incentives I'm unconvinced altruistic behavior will win out. Back when I owned a medium data center with very expensive uninterruptable power (Liebert) and a large diesel genset, the last thing on my mind would have been sacrificing any of it to help out the utility. I had a system to keep online with maximum uptime and only that was on my mind. We had two separate grid connections from two different utility generating sources, part of the initial site selection.

I sold that business and I'm glad I did, thinking about all the things that count go wrong, all the time is very wearing on a man. I heartily concur with @Gerry Maddoux's points above. The poor folks in the trenches were worried about these things and I'm confident memos were floated up the flagpole for budget money to deal with them, no doubt to be shot down so those funds could go into extending power lines to where no customers would ever be, but windmills sat. There's a world of difference between bringing a gigawatt of grid capacity to a single power plant versus stringing out the same capacity over a hundred miles to pick up megawatts at a time from wind turbines. Both engineering, but one makes pragmatic sense the other decidedly doesn't. 

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6 minutes ago, Ward Smith said:

Apologies for the misattributed comment. I got you and @Dan Clemmensen mixed up a bit. He commented back and I'd assumed you saw that, my bad.

The EU interties are interesting and it is clear that king coal is holding the fort over there, keeping the grid stable while politicians take bows and claim green supremacy. French nuclear is also helping. I'm intrigued in your idea of emergency sharing and we discussed it at length before. Absent laws and major incentives I'm unconvinced altruistic behavior will win out. Back when I owned a medium data center with very expensive uninterruptable power (Liebert) and a large diesel genset, the last thing on my mind would have been sacrificing any of it to help out the utility. I had a system to keep online with maximum uptime and only that was on my mind. We had two separate grid connections from two different utility generating sources, part of the initial site selection.

 

Take a look at this. Its an energy mix for Europe  (EU+ UK) for yesterday. 

Peak demand is around 400GW of which coal (inc Lignite) totals about 59GW so about 15% of supply

Nuclear in contrast is about 90GW and Hydro 101 GW. Its the hydro that keeps the system stable and that doesn't include what can be drawn off Switzerland, Turkey, some of the balkan states, Ukraine and Russia. 

Wind Power Numbers | WindEurope

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, NickW said:

The back up needed in Texas is already sitting there in the form of emergency Gen sets at hospitals, public buildings, large factories etc. All it needs is to be is tied into the system so that ERCOT can call on it as the grid frequency starts to decay to prevent a cascade failure.

I worked in a large hospital all my work life. I can assure you that no hospital is going to send their emergency backup energy to the grid. It is simply not going to happen. In a 1,000 bed hospital you never know when you're going to need to run a half-dozen surgery suites at one time, and there's no way of knowing when a natural disaster--or a manmade one--will end. Some go on for a very long time. 

Houston, for example, possesses the largest medical/surgical facility in the world on more or less one campus. They guard their energy like a hawk. Many public buildings in Houston have just enough emergency power to run the elevators and turn on a few lights. 

No, Texas needs new backup.  

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17 minutes ago, Gerry Maddoux said:

I worked in a large hospital all my work life. I can assure you that no hospital is going to send their emergency backup energy to the grid. It is simply not going to happen. In a 1,000 bed hospital you never know when you're going to need to run a half-dozen surgery suites at one time, and there's no way of knowing when a natural disaster--or a manmade one--will end. Some go on for a very long time. 

Houston, for example, possesses the largest medical/surgical facility in the world on more or less one campus. They guard their energy like a hawk. Many public buildings in Houston have just enough emergency power to run the elevators and turn on a few lights. 

No, Texas needs new backup.  

They don't 'send it to the grid'. By switching it on they lift their demand off the grid helping to alleviate the supply shortfall. If the grid fails due to a cascade event they will be switching it on anyway. A more timely intervention by  the collective call in of gen sets can prevent the cascade from ever happening. 

If the grid fails then the hospital islands itself and runs off its generators. 

There is no risk to the hospital. The only thing they may need to consider is a moderate increase in fuel storage if working under these arrangements. 

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33 minutes ago, Gerry Maddoux said:

I worked in a large hospital all my work life. I can assure you that no hospital is going to send their emergency backup energy to the grid. It is simply not going to happen. In a 1,000 bed hospital you never know when you're going to need to run a half-dozen surgery suites at one time, and there's no way of knowing when a natural disaster--or a manmade one--will end. Some go on for a very long time. 

Houston, for example, possesses the largest medical/surgical facility in the world on more or less one campus. They guard their energy like a hawk. Many public buildings in Houston have just enough emergency power to run the elevators and turn on a few lights. 

No, Texas needs new backup.  

Lets apply the logic spanner to the nuts of this one. 

What were they running on then during the blackout (assuming it hit Houston)? 

What tangible difference would have come from bringing it into play say an hour before the black out hit? 

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40 minutes ago, NickW said:

What were they running on then during the blackout (assuming it hit Houston)? 

What tangible difference would have come from bringing it into play say an hour before the black out hit? 

The several large hospitals all ran on power from their generators. They didn't cancel any surgeries. They had power for dialysis and so forth. 

If they had brought it into play an hour before the blackout hit, it would have relieved some stress on the grid, but I'm not privy to the facts. For example, were they notified that the grid was under stress?

Anyway, it's a moot discussion, because there's not a hospital in Texas that is going to give up any of their emergency power. They're not there to serve the grid, but rather to serve their patients. 

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8 minutes ago, Gerry Maddoux said:

The several large hospitals all ran on power from their generators. They didn't cancel any surgeries. They had power for dialysis and so forth. 

If they had brought it into play an hour before the blackout hit, it would have relieved some stress on the grid, but I'm not privy to the facts. For example, were they notified that the grid was under stress?

Anyway, it's a moot discussion, because there's not a hospital in Texas that is going to give up any of their emergency power. They're not there to serve the grid, but rather to serve their patients. 

They are not serving the grid . They are meeting their own demands slightly earlier than they would otherwise need to . I don't see what is so difficult to understand. 

Secondly they would receive a reserve service payment.  

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I get it. 

They may have done that. 

The Texas Medical Center is massive. 

I would think they might have had that worked out, but I just don't know.

I do know that they would have been armed with abundant reserve generator capacity. 

You make a very good point.

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2 minutes ago, Gerry Maddoux said:

I get it. 

They may have done that. 

The Texas Medical Center is massive. 

I would think they might have had that worked out, but I just don't know.

I do know that they would have been armed with abundant reserve generator capacity. 

You make a very good point.

They most likely have grid frequency monitoring where if the frequency drops below a certain level the generators fire up automatically. 

On a more formalised arrangement with the grid operator, the operator can fire up the generators remotely when it perceives a need arising (probably a bit earlier than in the scenario above) . In return the owner of the genset get a reserve payment which helps offset the cost of the generator. There is a cost involved here but its far lower than investing in loads of OCGT that are only really needed every 5/10 years. 

Dan said earlier that the reserve capacity of ERCOT was only 8% against a national average of 15%. That needs addressing but the most practical option here is to build some more modern CCGT plant and downgrade some older CCGT as the operating reserve or at least the OCGT part of that generating plant. 

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59 minutes ago, Gerry Maddoux said:

 For example, were they notified that the grid was under stress?

 

Good point.  Were power conservation requests / warnings sent out to the public?  I have seen little discussion or information on that. 

A few advertisements may have significantly helped. 

 

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1 hour ago, Symmetry said:

Good point.  Were power conservation requests / warnings sent out to the public?  I have seen little discussion or information on that. 

A few advertisements may have significantly helped. 

 

Wouldn't have been unreasonable in the circumstances to ask the public to avoid unnecessary usage - dishwashers, washing machines / hunt down the ghost loads etc

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1 hour ago, NickW said:

Wouldn't have been unreasonable in the circumstances to ask the public to avoid unnecessary usage - dishwashers, washing machines / hunt down the ghost loads etc

I think that the public is willing to respond and that the response would be meaningful, but it takes awhile to get their (our) attention, and the there are limits to the amount of power the public is capable of shedding. I think the Texas shortfall was so large that any likely response would have been too small to make much difference.  I base these speculations on our experience in California last summer.  on 13 August, the day before our first rolling blackouts, the public was asked to cut back on usage, but we were not given a lot of guidance as to how to do it, or what parts of the state could usefully help, and the whole thing seemed fairly theoretical. As a result, only a minor cutbacks occurred, as we had a period of two hours of rolling blackouts affecting about 800,000 customers, some for over an hour. This got our attention, so when the requests to cut usage went out the next day, more people paid attention, and there were fewer blackouts, lasting for less time. On the third day, although the same record-breaking heat recurred, even more people were paying attention, and no rolling blackouts were needed.

The Texas blackout was worse, so I speculate that people were less able to shed load and would have had a harder time getting the word that they could help. People also had the horrible double whammy where there was a need to conserve natural gas in addition to conserving electricity, and that would have been difficult to explain, especially to people whose cable and Internet were down due to lack of electricity.

The next time a call to conserve goes out, people will respond more quickly and more effectively, but only if it happens within the next three years. After that, we will have forgotten.

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On 3/1/2021 at 10:35 AM, ronwagn said:

I downgraded it. Just tired of green fairy tales about hydrogen etc. which will end up being more expensive and subsidized.

 

Thank you Ron, but I just gotta shove this fairy tale down ur throat if u don't mind...

New Factory Could Reduce Green Hydrogen Costs By 20% | OilPrice.com

Mate, I didn't make this stuff up, it is on the main page for all to see?

 

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On 3/1/2021 at 12:06 PM, waltz said:

I’m single, not sure that your solution wouldn’t be more problematic.  At the very least certainly more expensive.😁

Go for a redhead. They are cheaper but faster :)

 

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On 3/4/2021 at 9:44 AM, Ecocharger said:

Exactly, a veritable black hole of speculative science.

Unless you can speak to aliens. They tell me that Einstein was right, there is only ONE universe! (No strings attached). PS: there is only five of us left on this planet that actually understand Einstein's theory of General Relativity, most Physicists are still in denial. It is actually not a theory of Gravity, it is a LAW of gravity.

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On 3/4/2021 at 5:48 PM, Ecocharger said:

Religious theories are actually much more testable than speculative science. Religions predict a life after death...so you and I will both test that assertion before too much time has passed. Christianity expects the return of Christ to rule the planet...so that is something which will be observable to everyone, not a problem testing that idea. These are all experiential modalities, whereas the wilder notions of multiverse are apparently set up to be non-testable and non-experiential, immune from tests or falsification. They do not belong in the realm of science.

What makes you think that ruling the planet is something that I will make observable to everyone? Why would I do that after being crucified the last time? Better to stay in the shadows these days :)

 

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On 3/4/2021 at 6:41 PM, Symmetry said:

You must be unfamiliar with quantum weirdness. Start with the double slit experiment using one-at-a-time photons. 

Mr Symettry, the wave function of a photon approaches that of a classical particle with increased frequency (hence energy coz E = hf). I won't go into the details, but I should have you know that even the Heisenburg Uncertainty Principle has been debunked in recent years. There is nothing weird about Quantum Physics when you really understand it. The only reason we still do not have a "theory of everything" is because I discontinued my study of Physics when the Russians and Chinese started stealing my work as an undergraduate. All I can tell you is that there is actually 5 fundamental forces, not extra dimensions to space and time. In the olden days, there were separate units for electricity and magnetism, coz it was not known that they were two sides of the same coin. To understand "Dark Energy", you need to think big, really big. Dark Energy is the result of fusion of dark matter, and only occurs on universal scales. Cosmologists cannot even pinpoint the centre of the universe, talk about useless.

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On 3/5/2021 at 7:42 AM, Old-Ruffneck said:

Over 4 million loss of power is just a "stumble"? 

When you consider that Texas experienced temps 30 DEGREES FARENHEIT BELOW NORMAL, then yes, just a stumble. Even the nuclear plant was out of action due to frozen water pump. That is what caused the outage, not wind power.

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