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In Texas electrical grid, natural gas and renewables complement each other

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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A drilling rig in Texas' Eagle Ford shale play.

There is concern that low natural gas prices will crowd out renewable electricity generation, but in the long run, natural gas and renewables make better partners than adversaries. Whether the goal is reduced pollution, fewer carbon emissions, renewables and natural gas work better together than against each other.

This relationship is building in Texas, which has abundant natural gas and wind resources. Thanks to resources in the Eagle Ford and Barnett shale plays and advanced extraction techniques like horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, the state is now the leading natural gas producer in the United States, providing well over a quarter of the nation’s output.

Meanwhile, Texas continues to increase its wind power generation capacity – now approaching 12 gigawatts – aided by a production tax credit and plentiful Panhandle and Gulf coast wind resources.

But do these resources compete against each other, or are they complementary?

A new report by the Brattle Group discusses how natural gas and renewables both compete and complement each other in the Texas grid (PDF here). The report finds that low natural gas prices could compete with renewables in the long term, but on the whole, the relationship is mutually beneficial.

The report suggests that co-developing and integrating these resources is a smart policy decision because natural gas generation is well-suited to filling in the intermittency of renewable resources, particularly wind. Because wind cannot be dispatched to the grid at will (without some form of storage), wind power is prioritized over other fuel sources when it is available, where natural gas generating units can fill in the blanks.

The low fuel costs of natural gas and wind in Texas are far more disruptive to coal, leading to more fuel switching (dispatching natural gas instead of coal) while some electric utilities are offloading coal assets completely.

The result of this odd couple relationship has been a less carbon-intensive electricity generation sector in Texas – without carbon pricing or climate legislation.

The full report is available at the Texas Clean Energy Coalition’s website.

Image: AP

 

David Wogan About the Author: An engineer and policy researcher who writes about energy, technology, and policy - and everything in between. Based in Austin, Texas. Comments? david.m.wogan@gmail.com Follow on Twitter @davidwogan.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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Comments 22 Comments

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  1. 1. sethdayal 4:21 pm 06/12/2013

    Big Oil infomercial.

    The wind/solar/inefficient fossil run inefficiently backup scam got 85% of its energy from the fossil backup. Less fossil less ghg’s skipping the wind/solar and installing efficient fossil instead.

    In the few places that are approaching 20% wind and solar, the output nearly always in excess of needs gets dumped for free or pay to take into neighbouring grids. That is getting old real fast in Europe and causes enormous monetary losses as fossil power must be imported at full price when the intermittents are unavailable.

    The Ontario auditor General estimates Ontario has lost $2B because of this.

    Link to this
  2. 2. sault 10:58 am 06/13/2013

    seth,

    85% of Texas’ electricity came from fossil fuels because around 85% of the system’s CAPACITY runs off of fossil fuels! You obviously don’t know what you’re talking about. How in the world do you expect renewable energy to produce MORE that is even possible right now?

    And you don’t even know how electricity grids operate either. Regional grids trade electricity all the time. Sometimes, areas with a lot of renewable electricity have to sell their excess production at low prices or curtail their wind production, but you’re assertion that “the output nearly always in excess of needs” is ridiculous. Where’s your proof? And since wind power has ZERO fuel costs, Ontario hasn’t lost ANYTHING. They may have missed out on $2B in electricity sales, but that’s more the fault of the grid operator, not anything inherently wrong with wind power. Besides, selling excess wind power at a discount lowers wholesale electricity prices in the receiving electricity market, benefitting the utility customers there.

    Link to this
  3. 3. Shoshin 11:36 am 06/13/2013

    The reality is that without the Goliath of fossil fuel to backstop, backfill and put lipstick on the pig of wind power, wind power would be a complete and utter disaster. Look at Germany which is being forced to build large numbers of dirty lignite-coal burning poewer plants just to smooth out the wind power that is constantly turning off and on. They’d be far better canning wind power and sticking with NG. But they can’t something about the EU banning fracking. Fools.

    This is just another typical example of the poorly thought out and ideologically blinders of the increasingly irrelevant eco-movement. They are unable to respond to the reality of peoples needs. They need to learn that radical ideas need to make average peoples lives better, not worse before the average person will support them. Higher power bills is not making an average person’s life better, so no support. Simple as that.

    Link to this
  4. 4. sault 4:16 pm 06/13/2013

    All the clean energy concern trolls are getting this false propaganda about wind power directly from the dirty energy companies that are directly threatened by the coming clean energy revolution. The myth that wind power needs backup generation OBVIOUSLY isn’t based on the truth:

    “EVIDENCE SHOWS WIND FARMS DON’T NEED FOSSIL FUEL BACK-UP

    It has become an article of popular faith that building wind farms also involves constructing fossil-fuelled power stations for back‑up when the weather is calm. As a result, some opponents go on to say, wind turbines do little or nothing to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

    Now the National Grid has studied what actually happens in practice, with explosive, if surprising, results. Between April 2011 and September 2012 – its head of energy strategy, Richard Smith, told the Hay Festival – wind produced some 23,700 gigawatt hours (GWh) of power. Only 22GWh of power from fossil fuels was needed to fill the gaps when the wind didn’t blow. That’s less than a thousandth of the turbines’ output – and, as it happens, less than a tenth of what was needed to back up conventional power stations.

    It proved to be much the same with emissions. Wind saved nearly 11 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over that 18 months; standby burning of fossil fuels only reduced this by 8,800 tonnes, or 0.081 per cent.

    Not surprisingly, given these figures, no new fossil‑fuel power station has been built to provide back‑up for wind farms, and none is in prospect.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/10091645/The-badger-cull-is-no-black-and-white-issue.html

    Link to this
  5. 5. sethdayal 4:30 pm 06/13/2013

    Once again our favorite troll, Sault taking the prize for the stupidest commenter on SCIAM.

    “The wind/solar/inefficient fossil run inefficiently backup scam got 85% of its energy from the fossil backup”

    Obvious to all who passed grade 3 level reading the 85% refers to the power produced by the wind and its associated backup power not the entire grid.

    Wind as the Ontario AG found almost never occurs when it is needed but under the terms of all current feed in tariffs must be paid for at the contracted rate usually over 12 cents a kwh, 14 in Ontario’s case. Since Ontario has lots of baseload nukes and hydro the extra power must nearly always be dumped usually paying adjoining grids to take it.

    Texas has lots of baseload gas and coal plants that can’t be shut down just because the wind fires up for a few hours.

    n

    Link to this
  6. 6. sault 5:19 pm 06/13/2013

    seth,

    It’s impossible to tell what the heck you’re actually saying because you NEVER back up your statements with any sort of proof AND I always get this picture of you hammering away at your keyboard mumbling stuff about “Big Oil Conspiracies” as you type.

    And the Auditor General of Ontario is clearly biased towards the nuclear industry. The office wrote an ENTIRE report about Ontario Hydro’s Stranded Debt that was run up mainly by the ballooning costs of CANDU reactors without ONCE mentioning the root cause of the debt:

    http://www.auditor.on.ca/en/reports_en/en11/304en11.pdf

    Ontario has a problem because it has WAY too much inflexible nuclear power, ruining the opportunities for newer and cheaper energy sources like wind power.

    Link to this
  7. 7. sethdayal 2:29 am 06/14/2013

    Once again our favorite troll, SCIAM’s stupidiest commenter with his idiocy. He won’t tell us how much Big Oil pays him to hang out trolling on this site or how SCIAM is paid to let him. He’s been given the boot on just about every other blog I’ve seen him on.

    All my sources are easily found on Google, his on the other hand, are usually noexistent, and when rarely quoted come from some discredited greenie source. They never make the point he claims. In this case he mentions something called the HAY festival(farmers market) and a source called the “National Grid” or something like the comedy “National Security”. It is pointless spending anytime giving or on Sault sources as he is quite illiterate, innumerate, unable to read or understand the source, and he immediately forgets that he was utterly trashed. The “National Grid” claptrap was already thrashed here

    http://www.thegwpf.org/gordon-hughes-response-to-goodall-lynas/

    and here

    aefweb.info/dataWind%20farming%20in%20SE%20Australia.pdf

    “authors stated wind energy cannot be used for base load, and that the installed capacity of required back-up must be at least 80% of IWT installed capacity”

    I’ve numerous times with reference pointed out his incredible stupidity on this issue. Wind has to have enough fossil fuel backup to cover 100% of its nameplate capacity as it ramps up and down. Fossil generation has to be on hot standby with inefficient gas plant waiting for these events using up 10% of its energy doing it. That need is not too noticable with small wind penetration but when you get into the double digits you come in periods when the 100% of the grids average energy needs is coming from must be paid for wind at a time when load is 50% – the wind has to be dumped for free.
    Less gas less ghg’s skipping the wind and using CCGT plant instead. That Sault is too stupid to understand the logic is not surprising.

    In fact a University of Delaware study done by a real electrical engineer found that just for one of the northeast grids you would have to triple wind coverage with 12 GW of wind capacity to replace 1 GW of fossil or nuke capacity, . Even then there was still a need for 10% storage capacity, and 100% of the fossil plant and fuel dumps would have to be kept on standby for long term no wind climate events.

    As I’ve shown this stupid fathead numerous times Ontario nuclear costs 3 cents a kwh, and sells on the ISO at 6 cents long since paying for the Fascist stranded debt which was caused by stupid politicians interfering with nuke projects with idiotic finance schemes and schedule change. The Candu costs for the project were 10% over budget while all 7 subsequent Candu’s were on time and on budget. Wind power in Ontario is tariffed at 14 cents a kwh – hardly a low cost source and almost 5 times the cost of nuclear.

    Link to this
  8. 8. sault 1:28 pm 06/14/2013

    Sorry, but I’ve never been kicked off of ANY blog, so you’re just making more stuff up.

    The Global Warming “Policy” Foundation is a climate denial PR shop for polluters to get their spin glazed with a hint of legitamacy. Their agenda is OBVIOUS and completely divorced from reality. Your aefweb link is busted, but given that you think a polluter front-group is a valid source of information, this link is probably bogus too.

    And you don’t even bother to take 5 seconds to find out what “National Grid” is? My goodness, you are either the sloppiest or laziest commenter I’ve ever seen!

    “National Grid is an international electricity and gas company and one of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the world.

    We play a vital role in providing energy to millions of customers across Great Britain and the Northeast US in an efficient, reliable and safe manner.”

    http://www.nationalgrid.com/UK/about

    Yes, I think National Grid knows what they’re talking about a lot more than some polluter spinmiesters or some “study” done by some unnammed “electrical engineer”!

    So there you have it, folks! Wind power needs 90% LESS backup than traditional power plants!!! Sorry, seth, but the world doesn’t conform to your pre-existing beliefs and ideology. Maybe you need to look at REAL information instead of all that hogwash you post on these boards.

    Link to this
  9. 9. sethdayal 3:38 pm 06/14/2013

    Here he is again our resident troll and stupidest commenter on SCIAM, bothering decent folks with his obnoxious spew.

    Telling fibs won’t cut the troll any slack here. He has indeed been given the boot of numerous sites – at least his spew no longer appears on them.

    “National Grid” is a notorious subsidy seeking wind power shill that like all such organizations knows no shame in its quest for government largess. Wind power in the UK requires power lines to be 5 times sized to account for indeterminacy which generates enormous revenue. The farmers market gathering where the horsepucky was put out, came from a shill with zero qualifications that we understand once worked at National Grid. Like I said a comedy on the scale of “National Security”

    Note that his original link referred to “badger populations”

    I’d say my economics professor with backed up science has more qualifications and credibility than his wind power shill at a farmers market gathering.

    For some reason the second link doesn’t post properly but if you google the quote the result comes up immediately. Sault is just too stupid to figure that out.

    Both my Academic studies easily found by all with Grade 3 innernet skills which excludes Sault have far more credibity than Sault’s wind shill spew that he doesn’t even understand.

    Note not a word of apology from the troll on his Ontario energy nonsense.

    Readers are still waiting for the silly troll to give us a single solitary wind project that unsubsidized gives us his laughable claim of 4 cents a kwh energy.

    Get off this site and bother folks no more until you can back up your stupid claims.

    Link to this
  10. 10. sault 5:32 pm 06/14/2013

    seth,

    I know you don’t have the facts on your side because you have to resort to a bunch of name-calling and emotional rhetoric while you completely avoided engaging on any of the EVIDENCE I presented.

    Now there have been a couple of times when my account was hacked and an imposter posted some ridiculous things under my name, but I have never been kicked off of any blog. Why don’t you name some of those blogs you think I got kicked off of? Why is that so hard to do? Maybe because you’re just making it up?

    Anyway, I’ve posted this SEVERAL times and all you have in response is the usual mockery, name-calling and generally FAILING to engage any of the facts I present:

    http://emp.lbl.gov/sites/all/files/wind-energy-costs-2-2012_0.pdf

    The hard numbers start on slide 27, but here are some choice quotes:

    “Austin Energy officials say those wind contracts are among the cheapest deals available, when the cost of building power plants is taken into account, and comparable to what the historically volatile natural gas market has been offering recently.” (Statesman.com article)

    “Our contract with NextEra Energy Resources is one of the lowest we’ve ever seen and results in a savings of nearly 40 percent for our customers,” said David Eves, president and CEO of Public Service Company of Colorado. “The addition of this 200-megawatt wind farm demonstrates that renewable energy can compete on an economic basis with more traditional forms of generation fuel, like natural gas, and allows us to meet the state’s Renewable Energy Standard at a very reasonable cost to our customers.” (Reuters article)”

    So, I’ve shown you how cheap wind can be. Why don’t you show me a nuclear plant that is “unsubbed”? Good luck, because you CAN’T!!! All those CANDU reactors you love so much are “cheap” because all the stranded debt Ontario Hydro ran up building them ended up being dumped on the people of Ontario in the form of a monthly charge on their bill. The same thing happened in the Pacific Northwest with WPPSS. And if you think state-owned “enterprises” in China are being entirely transparent about their costs when building reactors, or whether they’re following safety procedures, or whether they’re even going to FINISH most of the reactors they’re building, I have some beachfront property in Nebraska to sell you!

    Link to this
  11. 11. sault 11:22 pm 06/14/2013

    LOL, finally got seth’s other link to work and it goes to another climate change-denying polluter front-group called the Australian Environment Foundation. Here’s what you need to know about them:

    “The Australian Environment Foundation is a front group founded by the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), a conservative Melbourne-based think tank.

    The director of the environment unit of the IPA, Jennifer Marohasy was the founding Chairwoman and is listed as a Director in the organisation’s documents with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC). Mahorasy is also the listed registrant of the group’s website, although the address and phone number for the website registration are identical to the address and phone number for the Victorian office of the logging industry front group, Timber Communities Australia. [1] [2]”

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Australian_Environment_Foundation

    “The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) is a right-wing, corporate funded think tank based in Melbourne. It has close links to the Liberal Party of Australia, with its Executive Director John Roskam having run for Liberal Party preselection for a number of elections. Following the 2007 federal election defeat for the Liberal Party, The Australian’s journalist Christian Kerr noted that a new group of federal Liberal politicians were “receiving support from former Howard government staffer John Roskam” at the IPA.[1]

    More recently, the IPA has been the driving force behind the establishment of a number of new non-profit front groups, including the Australian Environment Foundation – which campaigns for weaker environmental laws – Independent Contractors of Australia – which campaigns for an end to workplace safety laws and a general deregulation of the labour market, and the ironically named Owner Drivers Australia, which campaigns against safety and work standard for truck drivers.”

    All these front-group names are VERY Orwellian, don’t you think?

    “The IPA has heavily relied on funding from a small number of conservative corporations. Those funders disclosed by the IPA to journalists and media organisations include:
    Major mining companies – BHP-Billiton and Western Mining Corporation;
    Pesticides/Genetically modified organisms: Monsanto; and
    A range of other companies including communications company Telstra, Clough Engineering, Visy, and News Limited;
    Tobacco companies – Philip Morris (Nahan) and British American Tobacco [2]
    Oil and gas companies: Caltex, Esso Australia (a subsidiary of Exxon)[citation needed] and Shell and Woodside Petroleum[12]; and fifteen major companies in the electricity industry;
    Forestry: Gunns, the largest logging company in Tasmania; (Nahan 3)
    Murray Irrigation Ltd – a major irrigation company contributed $40,000.[3]
    In 2003, the Australian Government paid $50,000 to the Institute of Public Affairs to review the accountability of NGOs.[4]
    However, financial support for the IPA has diminished over the seven years from 1995-96 when the IA received $1.4 million to just over $669,000 in 2001-2002 (figures unadjusted for inflation).
    Even Rio Tinto, the conservative mining company, abandoned the IPA because of its strident advocacy against Aboriginal self-determination. [5].”

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Institute_of_Public_Affairs

    Link to this
  12. 12. sethdayal 11:40 pm 06/14/2013

    Actually the brainless troll Sault has not posted a single link on this thread except on on “The-badger-cull-is-no-black-and-white-issue.html” which he claims to tell us that no gas plants have been built to back up wind. Yet with every post he tells us he tells he posts proof on all his ridiculous claims.

    He still refuses to tell us how much Big Oil and SCIAM pay him to troll the site.

    He once again is lying about getting the boot from every online science blog in the country.

    On previous troll feeding episodes with this moron, I actually did post the link to the Aussie and University of Delaware studies and used them to thrash the fool. As usual he doesn’t remember a thing the next day.

    In actual fact a good portion of Ontario’s wind plant has been built to back up wind. You can go to the IESO site and watch how gas and wind generation rise and fall in opposite synchronization. Whadda brainless nitwit.

    You can see the stupidity of the foul troll when he tries once again to tell us a contract price has anything to do with the cost to build the plant. You lying troll – give us a single example or a wind farm that produces power at an unsubsidized cost of 4 cents a kwh. For that we need to know at least its capital cost and capacity. Until you can do that stay off the site.

    Once again the stupid troll brings up his brainless stupidity of the Fascist concept of stranded debt which had nothing whatsoever to do with the cost of producing those Candu’s. Proof was all 7 Candu’s produced after the fascists stranded debt concept was hatched came in at $2B/GW on time on budget on projects all around the world. Until you can show one single cost overrun on the first of a kind Candu 6′s at Darlington, stay off this site and stop bothering folks with your obnoxious spew.

    A year or so ago I utterly thrashed his nonsense on WPPSS proving that after all the costs were in the taxpayer’s were left with a single nuke plant producing clean and green power at 4 cents a kwh. He is so stupid he doesn’t have a clue – Alzheimers? Given they are now buying bird cuisinart power at 12 cents a kwh its too bad they didn’t end up with more of them.

    The AP1000 nuke contract with China is well publicized. Look it up on Bloomberg.

    Link to this
  13. 13. sault 1:02 am 06/15/2013

    What does this even mean?

    “In actual fact a good portion of Ontario’s wind plant has been built to back up wind.”

    Wind backs itself up? Well, since National Grid, one of the largest investor-owned utilities in the world, says that wind power needs 90% LESS backup than conventional power plants, it looks like all those polluter front-groups you quote from are LYING to you, seth. And if you think all those countless investors holding shares in National Grid are investing in “…a notorious subsidy[sic] seeking wind power shill…”, why don’t you short the stock and make millions? I mean, all that climate denier propaganda SURELY makes you smarter than all those people who have invested many millions of dollars in National Grid, right? It’s funny that all you have in response to the ACTUAL GRID OPERATOR DEMOLISHING your ridiculous myth about wind power needing backup is more of your silly rants and ad hominems without any coherent argument to show for it.

    Sorry, seth, but nuclear power just didn’t pan out. It only works when the government mandates it by fiat, as in France and China (at least for now…), but when subjected to even a hint of market forces, it is IMPOSSIBLE to build and run economically. This is why the government has to step in and broker the industry’s liability insurance via the Price Anderson Act. This is why utility ratepayers get saddled with the debt when reactor construction costs balloon out of control or the projects are abandoned completely. And if utilities building new nuclear plants get to charge their customers billion$$$ for YEARS before a nuclear plant becomes operational through “cost recovery”, why are you opposed to feed-in tariffs for renewable energy? At least with a feed-in tariff, the people paying it ACTUALLY get electricity for their trouble. With “cost recovery”, they’re paying for electricity they MIGHT use at some undefined period in the future, and that’s only if the reactor this “cost recovery” is going towards is actually completed. (“cost recovery” really just lowers their financing costs, so it is just another massive subsidy that the government hands over to the nuclear industry…) And when the nuclear industry’s horrible track record for completing reactors catches up with them, those same ratepayers paying the “cost recovery” will have to pay off the debt accumulated while building the reactors that were abandoned do to ballooning costs and an unexecutable schedule. It’s happened before, so what’s stopping it from happening again?

    Link to this
  14. 14. sault 1:03 am 06/15/2013

    What does this even mean?

    “In actual fact a good portion of Ontario’s wind plant has been built to back up wind.”

    Wind backs itself up? Well, since National Grid, one of the largest investor-owned utilities in the world, says that wind power needs 90% LESS backup than conventional power plants, it looks like all those polluter front-groups you quote from are LYING to you, seth. And if you think all those countless investors holding shares in National Grid are investing in “…a notorious subsidy[sic] seeking wind power shill…”, why don’t you short the stock and make millions? I mean, all that climate denier propaganda SURELY makes you smarter than all those people who have invested many millions of dollars in National Grid, right? It’s funny that all you have in response to the ACTUAL GRID OPERATOR DEMOLISHING your ridiculous myth about wind power needing backup is more of your silly rants and ad hominems without any coherent argument to show for it.

    Sorry, seth, but nuclear power just didn’t pan out. It only works when the government mandates it by fiat, as in France and China (at least for now…), but when subjected to even a hint of market forces, it is IMPOSSIBLE to build and run economically. This is why the government has to step in and broker the industry’s liability insurance via the Price Anderson Act. This is why utility ratepayers get saddled with the debt when reactor construction costs balloon out of control or the projects are abandoned completely. And if utilities building new nuclear plants get to charge their customers billion$$$ for YEARS before a nuclear plant becomes operational through “cost recovery”, why are you opposed to feed-in tariffs for renewable energy? At least with a feed-in tariff, the people paying it ACTUALLY get electricity for their trouble. With “cost recovery”, they’re paying for electricity they MIGHT use at some undefined period in the future, and that’s only if the reactor this “cost recovery” is going towards is actually completed. (“cost recovery” really just lowers their financing costs, so it is just another massive subsidy that the government hands over to the nuclear industry…) And when the nuclear industry’s horrible track record for completing reactors catches up with them, those same ratepayers paying the “cost recovery” will have to pay off the debt accumulated while building the reactors that were abandoned do to ballooning costs and an unexecutable schedule. It’s happened before, so what’s stopping it from happening again?

    Link to this
  15. 15. sethdayal 2:55 am 06/15/2013

    You are hammered Sault. Go to bed and in the morning check in to alcohol rehab.

    You got so exited when you discovered my uneditable typo that you posted your illiterate spew twice.

    “In actual fact a good portion of Ontario’s gas plant has been built to back up wind.”

    Which you would have figgered out if you were sober.

    While I have posted two links utterly debunking your demented paraphrase of something you claim came from “National Grid” I’d suggest once again that you cease posting until you can find some kind of link. Your every post is so full of lies that nothing you state can be trusted without extensive backup.

    Please explain how it is that VC Summer is financed and 30% complete already without a dime of government support. Cheapest power in the US bar none.

    As for you mindless drunken critique of French public power keep in mind that nuclear operators TVA and Energy Northwest are America’s most efficient power companies both publicly owned.

    Not an airplane would fly if government liability limits didn’t protect the industry from being sued in case of another 911. Not a wind solar plant would be built if government legislation didn’t forbid the families of their gas backup plant air pollution victims from suing.

    There have been no nuke reactors built in the US in the last 30 years but scores have been built around the world on time and on budget in that period. Like many drunks you live in the past, when your Greenpeace ran the NRC and insane rules were used to cripple the industry.

    I’ve asked you again and again to stop posting your vile spew until you can give us the CAPITAL COST AND NAME PLATE capacity of your drunken dream of a 4 cent a kwh wind farm. Get off the site. back under the bridge and stop bothering the good folks. And get into rehab ASAP.

    Link to this
  16. 16. sault 2:00 pm 06/15/2013

    “Costs were estimated [for VC Summer units 2 and 3] to be approximately $9.8 billion for both AP1000 units, plus transmission facility and financing costs. The operators are filing an application to increase customers bills by $1.2 billion (2.5%) during the construction period to partially finance capital costs.[5]”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgil_C._Summer_Nuclear_Generating_Station

    So, the plant really costs $11B PLUS transmission facility upgrades AND financing costs!!! Financing costs are one of the biggest uncertainties in building a nuke plant! And even though the utility gets to charge its customers a STEALTH feed-in tariff for electricity from these plants that may or may not ever get completed, they plant’s current price tag STILL has all those uncertain financing costs in it! And since delays are already starting to creep into the schedule, those financing costs are going up, up up!

    https://enr.construction.com/engineering/subscription/LoginSubscribe.aspx?cid=25814

    And how much is it going to cost to TRIPLE transmission capacity out of the plant site? We don’t know that either! The units going up at Vogtle have a more accurate price tag (even though they benefit from “cost recovery too!) and are coming in at $16B

    Again, “Too cheap to meter” is really “Too expensive and slow to matter”.

    Link to this
  17. 17. sault 2:05 pm 06/15/2013

    Well, looks like EVEN MORE delays are happening at VC summer:

    “Following an inspection in February, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission asserted that the spacing and anchor systems for rebar installed in portions of the reactors’ basemats and walls did not meet the agency’s requirements. The resulting inspection report read, “The basis for the NRC’s preliminary significance determination for this issue is that, without adequate spacing and anchorage of the headed reinforcement, the structural components that rely upon this system may be subject to brittle failure at a demand less than that required by the design-basis loads.”

    http://nuclearstreet.com/nuclear_power_industry_news/b/nuclear_power_news/archive/2013/04/24/nrc-raises-concerns-over-rebar-at-new-v.c.-summer-reactors-042402.aspx

    History is sadly repeating itself…we let it only when we listen to ideologues / paid shills like seth instead of looking at the facts.

    Link to this
  18. 18. sault 2:21 pm 06/15/2013

    Uh-oh:

    “Two nuclear reactors currently under construction in Fairfield County may end up being delayed for up to a year.

    The parent company of South Carolina Electric & Gas confirmed that the two reactors being built at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Jenkinsville could be delayed by up to a year because some of the necessary “submodules” will not be constructed and delivered in time.

    They have had a number of problems at this CB&I Lake Charles facility,” he said. “The consortium is working very hard to rectify the problems. We think that they’re on a success path, but we certainly want to see an improved trend.”

    http://www.southcarolinaradionetwork.com/2013/06/07/new-midlands-nuclear-reactors-may-be-delayed-a-year/

    Link to this
  19. 19. sethdayal 2:27 pm 06/15/2013

    AWEA board member E.ON, which operates German transmission grids and also builds wind plants in the US, is succinct:

    “Wind energy is only able to replace traditional power stations to a limited extent. Their dependence on the prevailing wind conditions means that wind power has a limited load factor even when technically available…. Consequently, traditional power stations with capacities equal to 90% of the installed wind power capacity must be permanently online [and burning fuel] in order to guarantee power supply at all times”

    http://www.nerc.com/docs/pc/ivgtf/EON_Netz_Windreport2005_eng.pdf

    This means wind generation cannot replace fossil generation to any meaningful extent.

    Link to this
  20. 20. sethdayal 2:49 pm 06/15/2013

    Yup Sault the stupidest commenter on SCIAM. No matter how many times he is trashed he comes back with the same garbage.

    Yup by paying costs in advance the public gets a much lower cost in the future. Thats why the PUC approves its. The advance cost are part of the original budget.

    You know I find all this thread all through Sault’s spew. Seems he is a fascist when it comes to nuke power saying the market should cover all but a rabid commie when it comes to renewables wanting them subsidized to max.

    Since the VC Summer unit is already connected to a modernized grid the cost of connecting the new facility is minimal. In the Vogtle case the states total transmission plant is mess hence the larger cost. Sault is of course too stupid to get it.

    Yup the Greenie political appointee Jackass in his dying gasp was able to force a long delay to evaluate ancient NRC rebar standards instead of modern ISO9000 standards common in all modern safety related construction.

    Whether that delay as well as his licensing delay – a year total will stand – can be made up is xkn at this time.

    He was using the tactics of Sault’s Greenpeace NRC types that in the 80′s that murdered a million Americans by shutting down nuclear. Fortunately he’s gone.

    So some greenpeace caused delays but no effect on budget so far and not unexpected for a first of a kind.

    As usual the illiterate troll was unable to both read and understand the articles he quotes. Part of his paid Big Oil shilling job?

    Link to this
  21. 21. sethdayal 2:53 pm 06/15/2013

    Note that power regulator NERC agrees exactly the with the conclusions of science based paper despite Sault’s vague conspiracy link to the evil Australian Liberal party. Gee I thought Liberal meant progressive.

    Link to this
  22. 22. sault 8:59 pm 06/15/2013

    “Yup by paying costs in advance the public gets a much lower cost in the future.”

    Nope, totally wrong. Ever heard of opportunity cost? And given the nuclear industry’s track record of failing or just plain abandoning reactor build projects, what if the same thing happens here? The utility’s customers are out billion$$$ and then the government will probably just swoop in and saddle them with all the debt that piled up building the failed reactor just like in the Pacific Northwest or Ontario.

    And you’re crazy if you think “the cost of connecting the new facility is minimal.” Either they haven’t been using 70% of the capacity for outbound power from VC Summer or they’ll have to more than TRIPLE this capacity for the 2 new reactors. Either way, this cost is anything but “minimal”.

    Finally, German utilities are scared of renewable energy because its ZERO fuel cost is messing up the games they play on the wholesale electricity market by dragging prices down. In addition, distributed ownership of generation capacity is a direct threat to their business model. Of course they’ll badmouth it when given the chance, just like cigarette companies will badmouth Nicorette or whatever when given the chance. I’ll admit that wind power can’t provide 100% of electricity demand, but you’re trying to stretch that quote beyond recognition.

    The E.ON board member said, “Wind energy is only able to replace traditional power stations to a limited extent.”

    And you’re trying to twist this quote into something entirely different when you interpret it as saying, “This means wind generation cannot replace fossil generation to any meaningful extent.”

    This is a WILDLY off-target interpretation of the quote since “limited extent” is a lot different than “any meaningful extent”. I guess your ideological blinders are pretty thick!

    Link to this

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