Sunday, September 14, 2014

California Peaking in Power Demand in 2014

Subtitle:  Grid Is Peaking a Bit Late This Year

Watching the California grid operator, CAISO (California Independent System Operator) is part of keeping tabs on climate change.  After all, if the warmist-alarmists are correct, the climate is getting warmer due to increasing Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions.  The warmists are completely wrong, of course.  

This post is timely since there has been a fairly cool summer thus far in California, with the grid not being pushed much.  Today, however, the temperatures reached 106 F at 2:00 pm in downtown Los Angeles as measured at the campus of University of Southern California.  Weather forecasts are for more of the same for the next two days.  The normal temperature for this part of September is 83-84 F, with record temperatures 100 to 103 F set in 2012 and 1909.   The cause of the high temperatures is merely a stationary high pressure system.  Additional CO2 in the earth's atmosphere has nothing to do with it.  

The power grid peaked today at 41,540 MW per the CAISO website.  Their forecast for tomorrow is about 10 percent higher at 44,842 MW.   The weekend is almost always lower in demand than a weekday.  

For perspective, below are the peak demands for the past few years, again from CAISO:  (format from left to right in Year, MW demand, Month and Day, time of peak in hours and minutes; 16:00 is 4:00 pm)

1998 44,659 August 12 14:30
1999 45,884 July 12 16:52
2000 43,784 August 16 15:17
2001 41,419 August 7 16:17
2002 42,441 July 10 15:01
2003 42,689 July 17 15:22
2004 45,597 September 8 16:00
2005 45,431 July 20 15:22
2006 50,270 July 24 14:44
2007 48,615 August 31 15:27
2008 46,897 June 20 16:21
2009 46,042 September 3 16:17
2010 47,350 August 25 16:20
2011 45,545 September 7 16:30
2012 46,846 August 13 15:53
2013 45,097 June 28 16:54
2014 45,090 September 15 17:00  (estimated, to be confirmed)

The latest such peak day was September 8, in 2004.  If tomorrow (Monday) or Tuesday are the peak days, this will be the latest such peak for the past 17 years.  

The grid may be pushed a bit, since the San Onofre nuclear power plants are permanently offline since 2012 due to the radiation release caused by defective steam generators, but also from the lack of hydroelectric power during the ongoing drought.    The renewable generation in California includes solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and biogas.  Solar and wind are variable while the other three are very stable.   In the current heat wave, very little wind is blowing; the average for today (Sunday September 14) was approximately 1000 MW.   

The power to the grid, therefore, must either be provided by natural gas-fired power plants, the one remaining nuclear plant at Diablo Canyon, or imported if possible.  The state may also request load reductions from major users to ease the load.  

CAISO information on grid demand and supplies, including renewables, can be found at this link.

Update: 9/15/14, CAISO demand peaked at 45,090 MW today at approximately 17:00 hours.   This is the highest of the year, thus far.  Approximately 7,000 MW of this was provided by renewable energy: 4500 solar, 1000 wind, 900 geothermal, and the balance from small hydro, bio-mass and bio-gas.   - end update. 

Update:  9/17/14, the grid peak demand was lower today, at 43,757 MW at around 16:00 hours.  This reduced demand coincided with an increase in wind across the state, and wind-generated power.  The wind brings with it a cooling effect, reducing air conditioning loads.  The wind also produced approximately 2,800 MW of power.  Yet another benefit of wind-energy: cooling the atmosphere and thus reducing the load on the grid as it did today.  All the gas-fired plants were able to ease up a bit.   

The heat wave has ended, and cooler weather with lower grid demands will exist until sometime next summer.  -- end update

Roger E. Sowell, Esq. 
Marina del Rey, California

Copyright (C) 2014 by Roger Sowell - all rights reserved

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