HI54UNI wrote: ↑Sun Feb 21, 2021 9:39 am
What a crazy week it was. We operate in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) energy market. SPP covers 14 states from North Dakota to the Texas panhandle. On a typical day prices for energy would be maybe 2-2.5 cents per kWh. On a hot day or cold day that might jump up to an average of 5-6 cents per kWh. On a typical day we sell about 1.0-1.2 million kWh to our members. So on a normal day it costs us $25,000 +/- to meet our needs. On a hot or cold day we could be looking at $72,000 for one day. We have ownership in various generation facilities that we sell to the market and get credit back. Basically the two offset each other every day.
On Saturday, February 13 the market started going crazy. Average prices each day and our cost at 1.2 million kWh per day:
13th - $0.137/kWh $164,712
14th - $0.294/kWh $352,932
15th - $2.994/kWh $3,593,538
16th - $2.756/kWh $3,307,092
17th - $2.219/kWh $2,663,352
18th - $3.633/kWh $4,360,130
19th - $1.114/kWh $1,336,393
So instead of spending between $175,000 - $500,000 like we normally might during this period we spent $15,778,000 to supply our members with power. Fortunately we have sufficient generation to offset this cost in the market. But there are a lot of utilities that don't have sufficient generation and rely on the market that are going to take a huge financial hit from this. This is also what happened to the customers of Griddy - they were essentially playing in the market and got burnt badly.
In addition to our regular baseload generation SPP called on all of our emergency backup diesel generation to run as well. We did our part to support the SPP grid. We had members run well over 100 hours during this period for plants that really aren't designed to be pushed that hard. For much of this crisis we were generating over 200% of our needs - in other words we were covering all of our electrical load from our members plus somebody else's by pushing surplus back onto the grid. There were times where we were covering 270%. On Tuesday morning SPP had to implement rolling blackouts over the 14 state territory. We weren't hit with any blackouts because we were actually generating 215% of our load at the time the blackouts were implemented. Disconnecting us would have actually made things worse.
One of our backup plants burns 2500 gallons of fuel an hour. They had to have a tanker truck delivering fuel every 3 hours. 42 semi loads delivered during this period. Over $600,000 in diesel fuel for just that one plant. I haven't even had time to add up all the others yet. I'm guessing the fuel bill will be over $2 million. Fortunately we will get reimbursed from the market for this.
A lot of regulators, politicians, and utilities are in CYA mode right now to try and avoid blame. There are going to be investigations and a lot of hand wringing over this. I recieved one call from the chair of our state regulatory commission and 3 calls from another state commissioner. Fortunately with how we performed we look pretty good. But had some of our stuff not worked it could have been ugly real fast. Sad thing is nothing will really change to make things better. Usually the regulators have good intentions but tend to make things worse.
I'm already starting to see talk of bailouts for utilities that didn't have adequate generation in place or limiting the amount of "profit" that some generators were able to make. Pisses me off that we have made investments at a cost to our rate payers to avoid this problem and now somebody that made poor decisions is going to get a bailout.