Wind Booms, Coal Suffers in Oversupplied Texas Grid

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence:When Vistra Energy Corp. subsidiary Luminant Generation Co. LLC announced on Oct. 13 that it would retire two large coal plants in Texas next year, the company stated that “these two plants are economically challenged in the competitive ERCOT market” because of “sustained low wholesale power prices, an oversupplied renewable generation market, and low natural gas prices, along with other factors.”That statement echoed what has become a truism among merchant generators operating in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas region: the rapid spread of cheap wind power is creating an oversupply of electricity in the Texas market. ERCOT oversees the grid that supplies most of Texas with its electricity.“ERCOT is currently oversupplied,” found a December 2016 report prepared for the Texas Clean Energy Coalition by the Brattle Group, Inc. that looked at grid reliability in the face of rising penetration of renewable energy sources and accelerating retirements of coal-fired plants, “and the forecasted additions of natural gas, solar, and wind generation should provide a cushion to absorb many of the retirements that may occur.”A market that appears oversupplied to an owner of coal-fired plants, however, may not appear so to a grid operator charged with maintaining adequate resources for summertime peak loads. What’s clear is that as the penetration levels of wind and solar generation climb toward and past the 20% threshold, the issues around supply and demand, grid stability and market functioning become more complex. And Texas, a pioneer in wind power, could serve as a glimpse into the future of the U.S. power grid as renewables become cheaper and more widespread.Even as peak loads have remained relatively flat in the region in the last few years, total operating capacity from all sources combined has continued to climb.And much of that new capacity comes from wind, which grew from just over 11,000 MW in 2013 to nearly 16,260 MW in 2016 — a 48% increase in just three years — despite a renewable energy mandate that was met years ago.Following a construction boom fueled by the federal tax credits and the state’s $8 billion investment in long-distance transmission lines, Texas has nearly 20,000 MW of wind power capacity. The state supplied 25% of U.S. wind power in 2016, and wind capacity in the state is expected to reach 25,500 MW by 2019. Along with abundant supplies of low-priced natural gas, all that wind has helped depress energy prices in Texas. Despite having, by far, the highest energy usage per capita in the nation, Texas enjoys energy prices per MWh among the lowest of any state.As the Luminant retirements indicated, low wholesale power prices are driving coal generators out of the market. Exacerbating that trend, the wind boom is expected to be followed by a solar boom in the Lone Star state; in its most recent long-term scenario, ERCOT said between 14,500 MW and 28,100 MW of solar capacity could be added to the system by 2031. Through September, Texas had generated about 17% of its electricity from wind in 2017. Developers have already signed interconnection agreements for another 8,655 MW of new wind, plus 2,050 MW of new solar installations, in ERCOT.For coal plant owners, low natural gas prices and high wind penetration “have been like a one-two punch,” says Chen-Hao Tsai, senior energy economist with the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas, Austin. “If solar really takes off as ERCOT predicts, that will replace a good amount of generation from conventional generators during the daytime. I would consider that the third punch.”Adding to the blows against coal, natural gas plant construction is proceeding as well: “more than 14 GW [of] gas-fired generation capacity are also in the pipeline, with 7.6 GW scheduled to come online in 2018,” according to a July 2017 report by Tsai and his colleague Gürcan Gülen for the International Association of Energy Economics.What goes for Texas today could soon apply to the U.S. as a whole. According to the American Wind Energy Association, nearly 26,000 MW of wind capacity is now in development nationwide, with more than 14,000 MW under construction. New installed wind capacity reached 2,357 MW in the first half of this year, the American Wind Energy Assocation says, pushing total installed capacity to 84,405 MW. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, electricity generation from wind will reach about 526 billion KWh by 2040, nearly 11% of total U.S. generation.The Department of Energy’s more ambitious Wind Vision program aims to boost wind to 35% of U.S. generation by 2050.In Texas, meanwhile, wind power’s position is being strengthened by new farms built not in West Texas, home to the majority of the capacity built to date, but along the Gulf Coast. While West Texas still accounts for the majority of the state’s wind capacity, wind power along the Gulf Coast has increased sixfold in the last five years, reaching 2,385 MW, or nearly 12% of the state’s total wind capacity. That’s important because Gulf winds blow more consistently than those in West Texas, and better match with the peak daytime hours for electricity consumption, overcoming the variability that of generation from farms in West Texas, where the wind is highest at night.That will likely crowd out more fossil fuel generation, especially from coal plants, which are less flexible than plants that burn natural gas and are thus less able to ramp up quickly when the sun’s not shining and the wind’s not blowing. According to a May 2016 report from the Brattle Group — also prepared for TCEC — coal generators face a sharp decline in Texas: Coal’s share of generation in the state will fall from 34% in 2013 to 6% in 2035.Coal’s dethronement in Texas has implications for coal producers in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, as well. Texas, which consumed some 86 million tons of coal in 2015, much of it from Powder River mines, is by far the largest coal market in the U.S. Accelerating retirements in Texas will have a dramatic effect on Powder River Basin mines: Luminant’s Monticello and Big Brown plants, for instance, both of which are now slated for early retirement, bought up 54% of production from Peabody Energy’s Rawhide mine through the first seven months of 2017, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.More: Wind booms, coal suffers in oversupplied Texas grid Wind Booms, Coal Suffers in Oversupplied Texas Gridlast_img read more

SER fails to produce unanimous recommendation on Dutch pensions

first_imgThe Dutch Social and Economic Council (SER) has failed to produce a unanimous recommendation on the best way forward to building a new and sustainable pensions system in the Netherlands.The SER said individual pensions accrual, combined with collective risk-sharing, would be an “interesting” option for future pension arrangements.Dutch unions, however, have said they want to explore the concept of an improved version of the current defined benefit (DB) plan but with fewer guarantees.Gijs van Dijk, a board member at the FNV union, said: “For pension funds with low coverage ratios, this alternative will probably also allow for a more simple transition to a new system.” Meanwhile, Cees Oudshoorn, director of employer organisation VNO-NCW, said his members wanted a choice for “modern” defined contribution arrangements.In its report, the SER concluded that, in a system based on individual accrual and collective risk-sharing, the loss of purchasing power would be less than under current DB arrangements with ‘degressive’ accrual.In a bad-weather scenario, however, it would be worse, it conceded.The SER said its analysis had shown that the negative effect of abolishing an average contribution for various demographics could be offset by simultaneously introducing a new pensions system aimed at building up financial reserves more slowly.The advisory body, however, had no answer as to how to deal with funding shortfalls arising during the transition from the predominantly DB system to new arrangements.It said more research was needed on how best to protect pensioners without burdening active participants and future generations.Previously, Kees Goudswaard, chairman of the SER committee, offered as possible solutions the smoothing out of any discounts and waiting until pension funds’ coverage ratios stood at 100%.Klaas Knot, meanwhile, president of supervisor DNB, pointed to the urgency of implementing a new pensions system, “as shortfalls at pension funds could increase further”.He recently urged pension funds to begin mapping out their participants’ risk preferences, assessing which pensions contracts would match this and deciding how to carry out any transition to a new system.Knot advised against simply waiting for interest rates to be raised again.“The current system has structural flaws that won’t be corrected by hoping for a rate increase,” he said.In other news, Jetta Klijnsma, state secretary for Social Affairs, said struggling pension funds would be prohibited from delaying necessary rights discount until a new pensions contract had been established.In a letter to Parliament, she argued that the new pensions arrangements were still unclear.“Moreover, funding ratios could deteriorate further and hamper a transition to a new system,” she added.A recent DNB survey concluded that, if pension funds’ financial position failed to improve by the end of this year, 27 schemes with 1.8m participants would have to implement a rights discount of 0.5 percentage points on average.last_img read more

Mr. Clarence Earl Davidson, Jr.

first_img Clarence Earl Davidson, Jr., age 67, of Pleasant, Indiana, entered this life on March 23, 1950, in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of the late, Clarence Earl and Mary Elizabeth (Dumford) Davidson. He was raised in Cincinnati, Ohio where he attended school. Clarence was united in marriage on May 24, 1974, in Kentucky, to the late, Mary Elizabeth “Liz” Ashbrook. Clarence and Liz shared 42 years of marriage together until his death. Clarence was formerly employed for the US Shoe Factory in Vevay, Indiana, for 10 years and for the Town of Vevay for 7 years. He drove a truck for Dan Albus and Sons for several years. He resided in the Switzerland County community since 1987. Clarence enjoyed hunting, fishing, the outdoors and spending time with his grandchildren. Clarence will be dearly missed by his loving family and friends. Clarence passed away at 4:35 pm, Friday, April 21, 2017, at the Norton Brownsboro Hospital in Louisville, KentuckyClarence will be deeply missed by his daughter: Rhonda Davidson of East Enterprise, IN; his sons: Clarence Lee “Buddy” Davidson and his wife: Kimberly of East Enterprise, IN and Thomas Davidson and his companion: Amie McEntire of Vevay, IN; his step-daughter: Melissa Willoughby of Mt. Orab, OH; his step-son: Larry Luttrell and his wife: Rebecca of Mt. Orab, OH; his grandchildren: Eddie, Drew, Khloe, Athena, Jasmine, Aurora, Jaxson, Jade, David and Jasper; his brother: Anthony Davidson and his wife: Donna of Ft. Myers, FL; his sister: Verna Neal of Cincinnati, OH and his several nieces and nephews.He was preceded in death by his parents: Clarence Earl Davidson, Sr. and Mary Elizabeth (Dumford) Davidson and his wife: Mary Elizabeth “Liz” (Ashbrook) Davidson, died April 17, 1016.Funeral services will be conducted Wednesday, April 26, 2017, at 11:00 am, by Pastor Brad Noble, at the Haskell & Morrison Funeral Home, 208 Ferry Street Vevay, Indiana 47043.Interment will follow in the Vevay Cemetery, Vevay, Indiana.Friends may call 10:00 am – 11:00 am, Wednesday, April 26, 2017, at the Haskell & Morrison Funeral Home 208 Ferry Street Vevay, Indiana 47043.Memorial contributions may be made to the Clarence Earl Davidson, Jr. Memorial Fund % Haskell & Morrison Funeral Home. Cards are available at the funeral home.last_img read more