Coal Kept the Lights On During the Winter Months

CFP: The winter of 2017/2018 saw freezing weather, causing energy demand to increase above normal levels. One of the longest and intense deep freezes ever recorded for the East Coast of the United States with snow, ice and frigid temperatures occurred between December 27, 2017 and January 8, 2018, placing the East Coast electric grid under extreme stress. The period from January 4th to 6th accounted for three of the top ten winter demand days in the history of the PJM Interconnection. Electricity consumption rose 21 percent over average daily loads during that period.

According to the National Energy Technology Laboratory, coal and oil power plants, many of which are being retired, kept the regional grid from overloading and widespread blackouts from occurring. The Laboratory’s analysis of the PJM system found that coal generation rose from 20 gigawatts to 51 gigawatts of supplied capacity. Natural gas generation averaged about 25 gigawatts, and was limited by pipeline constraints and competition from home-heating. Solar power declined due to the clouds and snow. Wind power also declined.  more here

5 Comments on Coal Kept the Lights On During the Winter Months

  1. When I was twenty, I was sent to England while serving in the USAF. Since I was married (I know) I rented a cottage in a small English village. It was heated by two fireplaces. The day I moved in my landlady was helping out and she said since it was getting cold inside (it was always cold there) she would go next door and make me some Yorkshire pudding while I built a fire in the fireplace. She said there was coal in the shed outside and gave me some kitchen matches. I got a bucket of coal and dumped it into the fireplace and struck a match and held it to the coal. Nothing happened. I used almost the entire box of matches and NOTHING. She eventually came back and there was no fire. She asked why. I told her the coal was “defective” as it would not light. She asked me to tell her what I had done to start the fire. She asked me if I had ever started a coal fire and I told her I had never even seen a piece of coal. She asked how we heated our home where I was from and I told her we simply turned on the central heating system that used natural gas for the furnace. After all, I was from Texas and we used oil and natural gas for these things. She gave me a tutorial about how to start a coal fire and for the next two years, I was a coal fire startin’ son of a gun. Every two weeks the coal man would check my coal shed and two days later, he’d bring the amount I needed so I wouldn’t run out. Good thing because it was colder than a well diggers ass over there.

  2. It goes back to the progressive movement being invested in increasing innocent human suffering, misery and death. If progressives had their way there would be no coal fired or nuclear generators and more innocent people would suffer or freeze to death as a result.

  3. Green energy.
    Comes from things that were once green, and were sublimated into the Earth’s gentle embrace and turned into coal.

  4. progressives don’t need coal because if they get cold they just turn up the thermostat in the house.

  5. I work within the auspices of the PJM Interconnection. It’s true, during the late Dec/ early Jan cold snap, coal pulled through in certain areas, preventing the need for load shed (read: blackouts). When it’s cold, gas is restricted to gas-fired generating plants because residential heating gets first priority. When gas isn’t in play, coal and nuclear become economically dispatchable again. Oil generation, which was called into heavy play in NH and VT, is far more expensive than coal.

    A lot of wind generation wasn’t in the mix during the cold spell due to icing on the turbine blades. Solar in the Northeast wasn’t really appreciable because, hey, it’s winter, the days are short, and the sun’s angle isn’t right. This country would be very smart in preserving, as DOE’s Rick Perry postulated, a fleet of power plants that maintain at least 90 days of on-site fuel, such as coal or nuclear. The day will come when strategically located base load generation with on-site fuel will prevent a major power disaster in the country. Or not. The recent pullback from Obama’s coal regulations came far too late. I predict there will be NO rush to begin construction on any base load coal-fired power plants.

    But we won’t go for plants holding on-site fuel. They’re not in the money. In a capitalist society, if an endeavor doesn’t pay, business will not enter into the risk. The wind doesn’t always blow, the sun doesn’t always shine, gas transmission lines are far more restricted than electric transmission lines, gas pipes break, compressor stations fail. There’s not enough hydro in the Eastern Interconnection to make a big difference. I feel that the future integrity of the electric grid in the US is at great risk. And believe me, once all those new gas turbine power plants are built, just watch the price of natural gas go up, and so will your electric bill.

    I’ve been in power marketing over 15 years now, and I can’t believe how fast the market has changed in the last 5 years. The power plant I worked in for 23 years is now a seeded field… not a hint that it ever existed. Shale gas can only carry us so far.

    Buy candles and batteries. Store them with your ammo. The coal under the Appalachians will be shipped overseas.


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