Brian Zinchuk is editor and owner of Pipeline Online
Two of the most energy-rich jurisdictions on the planet have been struggling to keep the lights on for the last three days as hot weather and low wind put the squeeze on electrical power grids. Extenuating circumstances added into the mix have put both Texas and Alberta into a pinch
First it was Texas on Sunday, the Alberta on Monday. Now, on Tuesday, Aug. 29, Texas has announced another grid alert for its electrical grid.
he Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said in a tweet on Tuesday afternoon, “August 29, 2023: ERCOT has issued a Conservation Appeal for today, Aug. 29, from 5 – 9 p.m. CT. Operating reserves are expected to be low in the afternoon and evening due to a high level of unexpected thermal generation outages & forecasted low wind generation.”
(1/2) TXANS Update—August 29, 2023: ERCOT has issued a Conservation Appeal for today, Aug. 29, from 5 – 9 p.m. CT. Operating reserves are expected to be low in the afternoon and evening due to a high level of unexpected thermal generation outages & forecasted low wind generation. pic.twitter.com/HNsxbYJtHy
— ERCOT (@ERCOT_ISO) August 29, 2023
(2/2) TXANS Update—August 29, 2023: We request Texas businesses and residents conserve electricity use, if safe to do so. Sign up for #TXANS emails: https://t.co/FrNi9xThDd. You can monitor grid conditions on https://t.co/qI0IdnNJEI and the app.
— ERCOT (@ERCOT_ISO) August 29, 2023
The “conservation appeal” is worded almost identically to what the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) refers to as a “grid alert,” with nearly identical measures suggested. And the AESO issued one of those Monday afternoon, calling on Albertans to reduce power consumption that evening, lest the grid fall into blackouts. Alberta’s Monday grid alert was also for similar reasons – high temperatures driving demand for air conditioning, coupled with next to no wind, and thus no wind power generation. But the Alberta situation had the addition of a technical issue with its intertie with British Columbia, meaning that it couldn’t draw on its neighbour to the west as it usually does in these situations. All of that led to Alberta’s Monday grid alert.
ERCOT’s projections for the evening forecast power reserves to fall to 1487 megawatts on a demand of 75,404 megawatts. That’s a razor-thin margin of just two per cent, as the accepted practice is to have a four per cent contingency reserve at all times. ERCOT also noted they had “unexpected thermal generation outages.”
Both Texas and Alberta have been leaders in their respective nations in the implementation of large amounts of wind and solar power generation and the abandonment of coal-fired power generation for the sake of the “energy transition” and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. And both, in recent days, have been issuing grid alerts when the temperatures are hot, wind power falters, and the sun starts to go down.
And Saskatchewan has been following down the same path, with SaskPower’s stated intention it wishes to add 3,000 megawatts of wind and solar to the provincial grid by 2035. Alberta already has 3,853 megawatts of wind, and on Monday, it was producing 39 megawatts, or one per cent of capacity.
UPDATE: 3:08 p.m. Aug. 29.
At 2:25 p.m, the Alberta Electric System Operator has not yet issued a grid alert on this date, but put out a tweet alluding to one, imploring Alberta citizens to reduce power consumption.
It’s still hot out there! Do your part to conserve electricity during peak demand, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., to reduce strain on the grid. Find out more. https://t.co/H3xXXvV4Ou pic.twitter.com/8HcRtNelCb
— AESO (@theAESO) August 29, 2023
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