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

Joint Interagency Task Force-South Gets New Commander

first_img Rear Adm. Mehling is the thirteenth Director of the Joint Task Force, originally established as Joint Task Force Four on February 22, 1989. Rear Adm. Steve Mehling comes to JIATF-South from Norfolk, Virginia where he served as Commander, Force Readiness Command, United States Coast Guard. Adm. Mehling’s previous Flag assignments include Commander of the Fourteenth District. He is a career aviator with 17 years of operational flying experience at air stations on the East Coast, West Coast, and Gulf Coast. A native of Brandon, Florida, he graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in marine engineering (with high honors) in 1985. In 1992, he graduated summa cum laude from the University of Miami School of Law as the salutatorian, receiving membership in the Order of the Coif. Rear Adm. Michel will report next to Portsmouth, Virginia as Deputy Commander, Coast Guard Atlantic Area. His previous flag officer tours included Military Advisor to the Secretary of Homeland Security and Director for Governmental and Public Affairs, U.S. Coast Guard. Under the leadership of Rear Adm. Michel, JIATF-S commenced Operation Martillo, the United States whole-of-government approach to countering the use of the Central American littorals as transshipment routes for illicit, drugs, weapons, and cash. Since January 2012, in conjunction with partner nations in Central and South American countries, and several other international allies, Operation Martillo has resulted in the seizure of more than 197 metric tons of cocaine, 35,000 lbs. of marijuana, $7.4 million in cash, 140 vessels and aircraft, and 440 arrests. U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Charles D. Michel, relinquished Command to U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Steve Mehling, in a Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-S) change of command ceremony at The Tennessee Williams Theatre, Key West, Florida, on June 14. U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Joseph D. Kernan, Deputy Commander of United States Southern Command, presided at the ceremony. Rear Adm. Mehling holds a Bachelor of Science degree with high honors in Mathematics from the Coast Guard Academy and a Master of Science degree in Management from the University of Maryland. JIATF-S is just one of three primary U.S. Centers responsible for detection, monitoring, tracking, and hand-off of suspect drug trafficking and illicit air and maritime trafficking events to law enforcement agencies and regional partner nations. Rear Adm. Michel was awarded the Defense Superior Service Medal and recognized for his superb leadership and operational acumen that improved partner nation relationships and increased support to the interdiction of illicit drug trafficking. Rear Adm. Michel recognized the JIATF-S staff for their commitment, “Through their exceptional performance and dedication, the entire JIATF-S team has positively affected cooperation with our international partners, improved conditions throughout the region, and made it increasingly difficult for illicit drugs to reach American soil.” Rear Adm. Michel’s awards include the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Coast Guard Commendation Medal, the Coast Guard Achievement Medal, the Coast Guard Letter of Commendation Ribbon, and the Colombian “Distinguished Service to the Colombian Navy” Medal. Rear Adm. Michel was the American Bar Association Young Lawyer of the Year for the Coast Guard in 1995, the Judge Advocate’s Association Career Armed Services Attorney of the Year for the Coast Guard in 2000, and is currently a member of the Florida Bar. By Dialogo June 17, 2013last_img read more