Unreliable & Inefficient

September 8, 2021
Get Ready for the Blackouts
Wall Streen Journal article, Robert Bryce
Between 2000 and 2020, the number of what the Energy Department calls “major electric disturbances and unusual occurrences” jumped 13-fold. Three things are weakening the grid. One is the rush to add renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, which depend on amenable weather to function. Second, over the past few years, numerous coal and nuclear plants that provide baseload power and help keep the grid stable have closed. Third, regional transmission organizations such as Ercot in Texas and Caiso in California are mismanaging the system. They are not providing enough incentives to ensure reliability such as providing payments to generators that have on-site fuel storage. Trying to electrify everything would be a disaster, especially for low-income consumers. Poor folks tend to live in homes that aren’t as efficient or sturdy as those occupied by the wealthy. They are more likely to suffer, or even die, during blackouts or extreme weather.

August 31, 2021
GM’s Chevrolet Bolt Recall Casts Shadow Over EV Push
Wall Streen Journal article
The $1.8 billion recall, around $12,700 per car, among the Detroit auto maker’s costliest ever, underscores the difficulty, and expense of fixing defective electric-vehicle batteries. GM this month expanded the Bolt safety recall for the second time, calling back the roughly 142,000 models built since it went on sale five years ago. GM and battery-cell supplier LG Energy Solution still don’t have a fix. GM has confirmed 10 fires linked to the problem and is aware of some complaints of smoke inhalation but no deaths. It is advising owners to avoid fully charging their cars and warning them to not charge them in their garages.

February 15, 2021
This Blizzard Exposes The Perils Of Attempting To ‘Electrify Everything’
Forbes, Robert Bryce
Electrifying everything would concentrate our dependence on a single network, the electric grid, and in doing so make nearly every aspect of our society prone to catastrophic failure if or rather, when a widespread or extended blackout occurs. This blizzard proves that our natural gas grid is part of our critical infrastructure and that we shut it down at our peril. It is essential because it can deliver big surges in energy supplies during periods of peak demand. The blizzard and blackouts that are paralyzing the country are occurring at roughly the same time that some of America’s most famous activists and politicians are saying we should quit using all hydrocarbons and dozens of cities across the country are imposing bans on the use of natural gas. In addition to being bad for energy security, these bans are a form of regressive tax on the poor and the middle class because they compel consumers to use electricity, which costs four times more than natural gas on an energy equivalent basis.

December 8, 2020
Electricity prices reach record high in Belgium
The Brussels Times, Jason Spinks
Electricity prices skyrocketed to record heights on Monday morning in Belgium due to unfavorable weather conditions. Prices shot up to €2,300 per MegaWatt-hour due to a lack of wind and sun, causing wind turbines and solar panels to barely produce any renewable energy. The lack of production was worse than initially thought. There was a deficit of 800 MW, which corresponds to a small nuclear power plant, causing electricity grid manager Elia to send prices soaring.

September 19, 2020
‘No more wind.’ WA state utility questions efficacy of wind farms for power generation
The News Tribune, Bill Virgin
More large-scale wind farms they say, will “contribute very little to keeping the regional power grid reliable and will not help Benton PUD solve our seasonal energy deficit problems”, will drive up customer rates, won’t make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, will hurt revenues that utilities like Benton receive from the sale of surplus hydropower and will needlessly clutter up the “scenic hillsides, canyons and desert vistas in our region for little if any net environmental benefit.”

August 26, 2020
Commentary: Blackouts highlight shortcomings of energy policy
California Agricultural Alert, Robert Spiegel and Karen Norene Mills
Unfortunately, the heavy emphasis and preference for solar energy has left insufficient space in the utilities’ mix of resources that can be relied upon for the types of high electrical load that happen during a heat wave. Due to the intermittency of both solar and wind energy, California needs to ensure adequate electrical supply exists from base and peak electrical generation sources. These blackouts should reinforce discussions for a balanced portfolio of energy generation.

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