Natural Gas

POV: Power Breakfast

Power Breakfast for August 31, 2016

EV batteries as grid-connected energy storage; Natural gas prices fluctuate during hurricane season


POV: Power Breakfast

A nearly daily update of energy-related news:

  • It is estimated that by 2020, there will be approximately 1,250,000 EV batteries approaching the end of their initial use. According to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report, discarded EV batteries with remaining storage could be repurposed as grid-connected energy storage to help smooth fluctuations in the grid’s power supply. There is currently no definitive answer on if this would be an economical and/or practical solution.
  • The beginning of September marks the midpoint of this year’s hurricane season. With potential storms hitting the Gulf of Mexico in the near future, natural gas prices have fallen due to the uncertainty on the region’s production capabilities.

As Peak Demand Keeps Rising in ERCOT, Records Fall

Powering Texas through the hot summer season


Lamar Power Plant, Luminant’s Combined-Cycle Natural Gas Plant

Lamar Power Plant, Luminant’s Combined-Cycle Natural Gas Plant

With the August heat above 100 degrees and covering much of Texas this week, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas set another record for peak power demand on Thursday between 4-5 p.m. of 71,197 megawatts. The previous record of 71,043 megawatts had just been set one hour earlier (between 3-4 p.m.). The new peaks set on Thursday blew past 71,000 megawatts for the first time and beyond the records set on Wednesday and Monday of this week.

To give you an idea of how much generation that is, one megawatt can power 200 homes in periods of high demand.

On these hot days when demand is at its highest, where does all that power come from?

ERCOT manages the flow of electric power to 24 million Texas customers, representing 90 percent of the state’s electric load. Luminant is the largest power generator in ERCOT.

The ERCOT grid relies on a diverse mix of energy sources that when all pulling together provide the power for this growing state. Here’s a breakout from ERCOT of which energy sources provided the power when Texans needed it most when Monday’s record was set:

  • 57% natural gas (includes combined cycle as well as traditional steam and combustion turbines)
  • 27% coal
  • 8% wind
  • 7% nuclear
  • 1% other (hydro, renewables, diesel)
    Note: Percentages are rounded
Forney Power Plant – Luminant’s Combined-Cycle Natural Gas Plant

Forney Power Plant – Luminant’s Combined-Cycle Natural Gas Plant

These numbers also underscore the importance of dependable power generation from natural gas, coal and nuclear energy.

Over the record peak hour on Monday, Luminant’s coal and gas plants and Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant helped supply nearly 15,000 megawatts to the grid.

“We strive for operational excellence, and on days like we’ve had this week, we’re reminded why it’s so important to work as a team to maintain safe and reliable operations,” said Steve Horn, Luminant chief fossil officer. “Our employees deserve immense credit for safely working in these extreme temperatures to help their fellow Texans stay safe and cool.”

With more hot days ahead, Luminant’s people, plants and mines are doing their part for safely powering Texas.

POV: Power Breakfast

Power Breakfast for August 10, 2016

Expanded Panama Canal gives the natural gas industry a direct route to Asia; China's bid on an Australian electricity lease under review


POV: Power Breakfast

A nearly daily update of energy-related news:

  • With the Panama Canal’s expanded locks opening earlier this summer, the natural gas industry now has a more direct route to the Asian market. There are now more than 170 reservations for transits across the canal; the DOE expects that there could be as many as 550 tankers crossing the canal by as early as 2021. The canal was retrofitted with a third set of locks and deeper navigation channels allowing for an increased capacity to travel through the canal.
  • Australia is threatening to veto the Chinese government-owned State Grid from bidding on a 99 year lease to operate Ausgrid, an Australian company which owns most of the electricity distribution assets in Sydney. Additionally, Hong Kong’s Cheung Kong Infrastructure is also under review by Australia’s foreign investment laws. This comes after allegations have been made that Chinese intelligence services have conducted “brazen” espionage in Australia according to the Australian Financial Review.
POV: Power Breakfast

Power Breakfast for August 9, 2016

ERCOT sets new peak demand record; EIA reports net summer natural gas withdrawal


POV: Power Breakfast

A nearly daily update of energy-related news:

  • ERCOT set a new systemwide record for peak demand at 70,169 MW on Monday, August 8. The previous record was set on August 10, 2015 and was a peak demand total of 69,877 MW. With triple digit temperatures expected to continue for the remainder of the week, ERCOT forecasts peak demand at or above 70,000 MW throughout the week.
  • For the first time in a decade, the U.S. had a net summer withdrawal of natural gas. The EIA’s weekly gas storage report shows that the working gas in storage was 3,288 Bcf as of July 29, 2016, a net decline of 6 Bcf from the previous week. Natural gas inventories stand at 3.3 trillion cubic feet, 16 percent higher than the recent five-year average.
POV: Power Breakfast

Power Breakfast for July 21, 2016

Texas scores 16 companies on Forbes’ America’s Largest Private Companies list; U.S. energy mix shows growing use of natural gas


POV: Power Breakfast

A nearly daily update of energy-related news:

  • Of the 223 companies on Forbes’ list of America’s Largest Private Companies, 16 are from the Lone Star State with seven from north Texas. The companies from the Dallas area were: EFH, Neiman Marcus Group, Sammons Enterprises, Mary Kay, Ben E. Keith, Hunt Consolidation/Hunt Oil, and Golden Living.
  • Natural gas accounted for 29 percent of total primary energy consumption in 2015.  Petroleum, natural gas and renewables saw an increase of consumption in 2015 with natural gas seeing the largest growth. However, there was a slight decrease in primary energy consumption overall.
POV: Power Breakfast

Power Breakfast for July 15, 2016

Natural gas-fired electricity generation to reach record level; Texas ranks No. 28 in energy costs


POV: Power Breakfast

A nearly daily update of energy-related news:

  • Natural gas-fired electricity generation is expected to provide an average of 3.8 million MWh per day this year, 4 percent higher than in 2015.  According to the EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook, natural gas-fired generation could reach record highs in July and August with increased electricity demand due to the summer heat.
  • Overall, Texas ranks No. 28 in energy costs with Texans paying an average of $289 per month on energy (inclusive of electricity, fueling the car, natural gas costs and monthly home heating-oil costs). According to a study by WalletHub, Connecticut is the most expensive state for energy prices followed by Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Some of the factors considered in the study included monthly electricity cost, monthly natural gas cost and monthly motor fuel cost.
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Tradinghouse Power Plant: A Legacy of Planning for the Growing Power Needs of Texas

We're committed to powering Texas with reliable, affordable and a sustainable supply of electricity


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The following op-ed ran in this Sunday’s Waco Tribune-Herald discussing Luminant’s plans to build new natural gas plants at Lake Creek and Tradinghouse.

 

For more than six decades, Luminant has had a presence in McLennan County as part of our deep commitment to meet the electric power demands of our growing state. A natural gas plant at our Lake Creek site near Riesel became operational in 1953. Another gas plant at Tradinghouse Lake went online in 1970. Both plants were important assets in powering Texas till they were retired six to seven years ago and the sites cleared.

Just like our predecessor companies that built those plants in the mid-20th century, Luminant shares the vision of planning for the future so our state has reliable affordable power to remain a great place to live, work and grow. That’s why we’re developing plans to potentially build new natural gas plants at Lake Creek and Tradinghouse. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has already granted air permits to build two 230-megawatt simple-cycle combustion turbines at each site for a total of 460 megawatts at both locations.

In 2015, Luminant applied to amend the Tradinghouse air permit to allow the option of converting the two simple-cycle turbines to what’s called combined-cycle capability in which a common steam turbine is added at approximately 350 megawatts. We’re also asking for the option there to potentially build two more simple-cycle turbines totaling about 460 megawatts that could run in combined-cycle with a second steam turbine of about 350 megawatts.

If all these units at Tradinghouse were to be built and running in combined-cycle mode, they’d produce approximately 1,620 megawatts of high-efficiency, low-emitting state-of-the-art natural gas-generated electricity. That’s enough to power about 810,000 homes in normal conditions.

McLennan County, the city of Waco and the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce have had questions about what impact nitrogen oxide emissions from the Tradinghouse plant, if built, might have on the area’s ozone. Vehicles, certain industries and fossil-fueled power plants all release NOx that can lead to ozone forming on hot, sunny days. The national ozone standard is 70 parts per billion as set by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Waco area complies at 67 ppb. Understandably, the local governments and chamber want Waco to stay in compliance. So do we.

Their concerns stemmed from computer modeling by a consultant hired by the Heart of Texas Council of Governments. The consultant plugged in some mistaken assumptions on how the units could operate and the associated emissions impacts if we just ran the four gas turbines without the steam turbines at Tradinghouse. That kind of generation is neither realistic nor economical but would’ve been allowed under the permit amendment if approved.

However, the modeling showed if Tradinghouse ran in full combined-cycle mode as designed, and as it actually would, the ozone impact would be negligible. We shared with the county, city, chamber and Tribune-Herald why the consultant report overestimated the projected ozone impact of the plant because of these inaccuracies.

We’re committed to being good neighbors. We listen. And we work together in the communities our plants call home. So, to address these concerns, we told the TCEQ in April to add a permit limitation that would allow only two of the gas turbines to run in simple-cycle mode at any given time.

Recently, an environmental activist wrote in the Trib opposing construction of the Tradinghouse plant, claiming Texas should no longer rely on fossil-fueled power plants, just renewable energy. Solar and wind have a place in the diverse energy mix that’s powering Texas. But to rely on intermittent forms of generation isn’t realistic. Just this spring, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told those who demand fossil fuels remain in the ground that “to say we could shift to 100 percent renewables is naïve.”

In citing cities, such as Georgetown, that plan to purchase 100 percent renewable energy, what this activist doesn’t mention is that such deals are possible only because of dependable generation such as natural gas. Even the mayor of Georgetown acknowledges when there’s not enough wind or sun, his city must buy power from the ERCOT grid where almost 90 percent of the power comes from reliable fuels, such as natural gas.

We’ve made no final decision to build these plants at Tradinghouse and Lake Creek. Market conditions driven by low wholesale power prices just don’t financially support new generation. But more will be needed eventually and, by securing the needed air permits, Luminant wants to be in the position to quickly add new generation when conditions improve.

At Luminant, we’re proud of our stewardship of the air and water. All of our existing plants meet or exceed all the environmental rules and laws of our state and nation. And should we be granted the permit amendment we’re seeking and build at Tradinghouse, we can assure the people of McLennan County the affordable power generated there will use the best technology, emissions controls and, importantly, be dependable to keep up with the power demands of a growing Texas.

POV: Power Breakfast

Power Breakfast for July 5, 2016

PUC contemplating LP&L entrance to ERCOT; Britain set to import as much as 38 percent more natural gas by 2030


POV: Power Breakfast

A nearly daily update of energy-related news:

  • The PUC is considering whether or not to allow Lubbock Power & Light to connect with the ERCOT grid and is reviewing a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed scenario. PUC Chairwoman, Donna Nelson, is considering the needs and the ramifications of all stakeholders prior to making a decision and said “I think we have to make sure that ERCOT and the ratepayers in ERCOT are treated fairly. We have to make sure that SPP and the ratepayers in SPP are treated fairly.”
  • According to Bloomberg, Britain is expected to import as much as 38 percent more natural gas over the next 14 years. The U.K. will also import electricity from neighboring countries as its interconnector capacity is set to increase by five times.