Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Two boats on a gray day

The M/V AEP Mariner ...

... and the M/V Janis R. Brewer ...

... passed through my area today. Both were downbound, the Mariner pushing a dozen empties and the Brewer pushing 15 loads of coal. A full coal tow with the hills behind it turning green, even on an overcast day ... you have to at least try to get that picture.

FirstEnergy moves ahead to shut down Beaver Valley nuke plant

Earlier today FirstEnergy Corp. announced it has filed a certification letter to shut down its three nuclear power plants — two in Ohio and Unit 1 and Unit 2 of the Beaver Valley Power Station at Shippingport, Pa.

Beaver Valley is the only nuclear power plant along the Ohio River.

All three plants would cease operations by the end of 2021. Beaver Valley Unit 1 would be retired by May 31, 2021, and Unit 2 would cease operations by Oct. 31, 2021.

FirstEnergy had previously said it would close it three nuclear plants if it did not receive regulatory help or if it could not sell them. As neither option panned out, the company is moving ahead with closure.

The next step is for regional grid operator PJM Interconnection to certify that the grid would not lose reliability should the three plants close.

A look back at the polar vortex

Remember back when TV weather forecasters didn't have to make up names for every storm or cold spell? Back when weather was a little less dramatic? Before the days of the Siberian Express, the Alberta Clipper or Superstorm Sandy?

Back in January, we in the Ohio Valley had the polar vortex. Why this cold snap needed a name when others that were colder or lasted longer didn't I'll never know. Anyway, one thing about this cold snap was that coal-fired power plants were put into service to meet the increased demand for electricity that comes with extreme weather (another TV term; forgive me).

The Energy Information Administration has released preliminary numbers for electric power generation in January. Here are how power plants along the Ohio River responded to the increased demand.

Power generation and the polar vortex
Largest coal-fired power plantsNet generation, Jan. 2017 (megawatt hours)Net generation, Jan. 2018 (megawatt hours)Coal consumed, Jan. 2017 (tons)Coal consumed, Jan. 2018 (tons)
Mill Creek874,367862,041399,771396,931
Trimble County787,080821,258351,653356,791
FE W.H. Sammis549,821803,895250,474353,990
FE Pleasants879,870732,709355,141305,281
H.L. Spurlock687,325686,144393,250323,165
J.M. Stuart323,370646,514149,068291,677
Kyger Creek374,891606,532158,405257,259
Miami Fort547,448510,216225,196223,274
W.H. Zimmer693,285446,402275,379189,479
FE Bruce Mansfield744,737309,414309,414151,848
Coal total12,620,50612,782,5175,686,7245,862,670
Largest gas-fired power plantsNet generation, Jan. 2017 (megawatt hours)Net generation, Jan. 2018 (megawatt hours)Gas consumed, Jan. 2017 (Mcf)Gas consumed, Jan. 2018 (Mcf)
Hanging Rock584,087807,6634,724,1415,590,063
Trimble County65,623149,154752,9381,581,539
Nuclear power plantNet generation, Jan. 2017 (megawatt hours)Net generation, Jan. 2018 (megawatt hours)
Beaver Valley1,394,3001,381,756
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Some coal-fired plants produced more power than they did in January 2017 while some produced less. You can look at the list and speculate about the reasons — an individual plant's efficiency; whether it had been running all-out before and there was little room for added output; operations affected by a planned retirement; etc. etc. etc. — but the numbers show the cold snap did not lead to an increase in the output of the plants as a group.

The two largest gas-fired plants, though, did pretty well.

Next up: A few more coal-related items.