Transition Is Enveloping U.S. Electricity Sector

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Wall Street Journal:The rapid rise of wind and natural gas as sources of electricity is roiling U.S. power markets, forcing more companies to close older generating plants.Wholesale electricity prices are falling near historic lows in parts of the country with competitive power markets, as demand for electricity remains stagnant while newer, less-expensive generating facilities continue to come online.The changing American electricity landscape is pressuring power companies to shed unprofitable plants and reshape their portfolios to favor the new winners. Texas provides a clear example.Citing low gas prices and the proliferation of renewables such as wind and solar, Vistra Energy Corp., a vestige of the former Energy Future Holdings Corp., said it would retire three coal-fired facilities in Texas by early next year and that it plans to merge with independent power producer Dynegy Inc. Exelon Corp., the country’s largest owner of nuclear power plants, placed its Texas subsidiary under bankruptcy protection earlier this month, saying that “historically low power prices within Texas have created challenging market conditions for all power generators.”The average wholesale power price was less than $25 per megawatt hour last year on the grid that coordinates electricity distribution across most of Texas, according to the operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. A decade ago, it was $55.Prices have fallen a similar amount on the PJM Interconnection LLC, the power grid that serves some or all of 13 states, including Pennsylvania and Ohio. A megawatt hour there traded for $29.23 last year, the lowest level since 1999, as far back as the grid’s independent market monitor tracks prices.The price drop at PJM reflects the construction of dozens of new gas-burning power plants, spurred by the abundance of the fuel due to the shale drilling boom. In 2006, 8% of the electricity in PJM was generated by natural gas. In 2016, it was 27%.Weak demand for electricity also has played a role, as Americans purchase more energy-efficient appliances and companies shave power consumption to cut costs. Last year, power demand in PJM grew 0.3% after falling the two previous years.In competitive regions in places like California, wholesale electricity is sold through daily auctions that favor the least-expensive sources of power. The resulting competition—by more power plants to buyers of roughly the same number of megawatts—has most-acutely impacted older coal and nuclear plants, which are struggling to provide competitively priced power. It has even begun to affect older natural-gas-fired facilities that have higher costs.An analysis by investment bank Lazard shows that on an unsubsidized basis and over the lifetime of a facility in North America, it costs about $60 to generate a megawatt hour of electricity using a combined-cycle natural-gas plant, compared with $102 burning coal and nearly $150 using nuclear. By that criteria, Lazard estimates electricity from utility-scale solar and wind facilities is now even cheaper than gas.A megawatt hour of electricity from utility-scale crystalline solar comes in at $49.50 and wind at $45. That metric carries an important caveat, however: It doesn’t factor in that wind and solar are more intermittent producers of power than conventional generation sources, since the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow.“It’s too late,” David Schlissel, a director at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, said of the Trump administration’s proposals. “The lesson is if you don’t put your thumb on the scale then gas and renewables will out-compete coal.”More: Electricity Prices Plummet as Gas, Wind Gain Traction and Demand Stalls Transition Is Enveloping U.S. Electricity Sectorlast_img read more

Ferguson empathises with Reds

first_imgSir Alex Ferguson believes Liverpool were wise not to try to head off a lengthy ban for Luis Suarez by imposing one of their own – having vowed Manchester United would never do it again either. Ferguson understood why Liverpool are aggrieved at the punishment handed down to Suarez for biting Branislav Ivanovic. However, the United boss does not think the penalty even comes close to the harsh manner in which Eric Cantona was treated by the Football Association following his kung-fu kick on Matthew Simmons at Crystal Palace. United, following guidance from the FA, suspended Cantona for the remainder of the season – a period of four months – believing that would be the end of the matter. Instead, the FA launched its own action, and increased Cantona’s ban to eight months. “I bet they are glad they didn’t (suspend Suarez themselves). It didn’t work for us,” Ferguson said. “David Davies promised us if we did it there would be no more action taken. Think about that. A nine-month ban. It is quite incredible. I still can’t get my head round it.” Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio revealed his astonishment at the biting incident. Di Canio, of course, served an 11-game suspension back in 1998 after pushing referee Paul Alcock to the ground during his playing days at Sheffield Wednesday. The Italian, who admitted he could better understand France international Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt on Italy defender Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final, spoke of his surprise at the Uruguay forward’s actions. “He didn’t beat me – I was 11 [games suspended]. That’s a joke, obviously,” Di Canio said. “My gesture was a very bad, stupid gesture, but not a violent gesture because it was a push like a kid when you are young. But anyway, it was bad. It wasn’t really a fair play gesture – it was very bad. But this one is difficult to judge for one reason: because it is unusual to see in a normal situation. “I can understand Zidane. I don’t excuse him, but if someone is swearing in your face, talking about your mama, your wife, you can lose your temper. In this situation, I don’t know what has happened, but it is clear from the pictures that there was normal pressure from Ivanovic and see you the player pull one arm and try to bite. “It’s something that looks strange. It can’t kill him, but it’s something not really good to watch.” Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini had some sympathy for Suarez, though, and felt the punishment did not fit the crime. He said: “Sometimes (the FA) takes a strange decision. If you want my opinion, this is strange. Ten games I think is too much. I don’t know if this is worse than other tackles or situations. I think that five, six games was enough.” center_img Press Associationlast_img read more