Author Archives: scottschwieger

VICTORIA POWER STATION: 1950s-vintage plant revamped for today’s Ercot market

If country music stars sang about powerplants, the Victoria Power Station, Victoria, Tex, might be a good choice. It’s a story about ordinary people doing heroic things in the face of constant adversity. With new owner Rockland Capital ready to invest in another turnaround, a period of stability may be near. Imagine a gray market (though never operated) gas turbine/generator ... Read More »

EAST RIVER GENERATING STATION: New practices for resiliency

Con Edison and Superstorm Sandy More frequent catastrophic events, weather-related or otherwise, are becoming a fact of life for generating facilities. When they occur, they focus the collective mind on minimizing the impacts from the next one. At Consolidated Edison Co of NY Inc’s East River Generating Station, recovering from “Superstorm Sandy” (Fig 1) offers some lessons learned and new ... Read More »

ELEPHANTS IN THE ROOM: What Cost Price Signals?

Electricity markets are failing. They are failing because they cannot overcome the distortions heaped on them by layer upon layer of regulation. Recall recent history. Virtually every state electricity deregulation program began with guaranteed electricity rate reduction or rate protection for most consumers, a strange way to inject competition based on price signals but a great way to later conclude ... Read More »

PRACTICAL PLANT ECONOMICS: Co-ops and DG…You want it, we’ll build it

Before the advent of competition, electric utilities collaborated all the time. Electric cooperatives still do. They form cooperatives for everything, such as generation and transmission (G&T), commodities supply, loans and financing, and equipment pools. The cooperative model was created when it became clear early in the electric industry’s history that the investor-owned utility (IOU) model couldn’t shake enough profit from the ... Read More »

GRID-SCALE STORAGE: DG…When the merely viable becomes the truly commercial

It is clear that the regulatory framework is evolving rapidly for distributed generation (DG) and the “transactional grid” to challenge, or perhaps more appropriately, complement the traditional centralized “big iron,” one-way paradigm of the last century. However, there’s another critical hurdle which must be overcome. DG has to evolve from a vast suite of viable and cost-effective technologies to a ... Read More »

GRID-SCALE STORAGE: Regulators, ISOs set the table; suppliers served few orders

Editor’s Note: The status report below draws broad insight from a consultant’s engagement with high-level representatives from countries interested in US grid-scale storage technologies, regulations, and applications—including attendance at the Energy Storage Association’s 2016 Conference in Charlotte, NC, April 25-28, plus meetings with US storage system suppliers, California utilities, CAISO, and other stakeholders. What is clear from being immersed in ... Read More »

Armstrong Energy: Gas-fired peakers become ‘cycling’ units in the heart of baseload coal country

A visit to every power station these days elicits a story that doesn’t square with a traditional understanding of the electricity industry but makes perfect sense under today’s market conditions. The latest is Armstrong Energy, comprising four dual-fuel, simple-cycle GE 7FA.03 gas turbine/generators installed in 2002 and five 3-MW engine/generator sets installed last year. All four GTs have fogging units ... Read More »

Commentary: Paradigm shift—from ‘big iron’ to the distribution end of the value chain

Writing about the future of electricity grid operations under a new presidential administration and Congress may be fraught with foolishness. However, several broad trends are likely to continue regardless of what our new leaders decide, how angry the losing half of the electorate is, or how the new opposition party plays its losing hand. First, the de-carbonization of the generating ... Read More »