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billvon

Warmer climate = more power interruptions

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I just got a note from a solar installer in Northern California. He is seeing a huge increase in the number of orders for battery backed solar power systems.

As the climate warms, several things happen:

1) People turn on their air conditioners. Demand goes up. More current flows through power lines. This warms them up and they expand (droop.)

2) The warmer weather warms up the power lines as well. They droop farther, coming closer to trees and other vegetation.

3) Vegetation gets drier and more prone to fire.

This has led to PG+E beginning to cut power to people in remote areas to prevent power lines from causing fires during dangerous (hot and windy) conditions. Battery systems prevent homes from losing power, and solar reduces the amount of heating that power lines see during the day (when fire risk is highest.)

From the power industry website UtilityDive:

=================================================
In a first, PG&E cuts power to 60,000 to prevent wildfires during wind storm

Oct. 15, 2018

Dive Brief:
Pacific Gas & Electric cut off electricity service to nearly 60,000 people on Sunday in a new attempt to prevent wildfires across Northern California service area during high winds and dry conditions.

The National Weather Service on Saturday issued a Red Flag Warning for the region, cautioning of extreme risk of wildfires due to low humidity and winds reaching above 50 miles per hour. High winds can cause power lines to come into contact with vegetation, igniting fires.

PG&E lines were found responsible for 16 fires last year and California lawmakers passed wildfire liability protections for utilities this summer after PG&E warned that fire costs could force it into bankruptcy or reorganization.


Dive Insight:
PG&E's voluntary shutoffs over the weekend are a reminder of the mounting pressure on California utilities to prevent wildfires against the backdrop of a warmer, drier climate.

Cutting electricity service is the "last resort" in a wildfire safety program rolled out by the utility last year to reduce the risk of fires that have burned thousands of square miles and killed dozens of people across the state in recent years. This weekend was the first time PG&E put that final step into action.

On Saturday, the utility warned customers in 12 counties they could experience service interruptions ahead of high winds forecasted for the following evening.

Just after 8 p.m. on Sunday, PG&E cut power to more than 17,000 customers in Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties based on the risk for wind gusts above 50 mph, the company announced on Twitter. Less than an hour later, it said 42,000 customers in El Dorado, Amador and Calaveras counties also had their electricity turned off.

The nearly 60,000 customers remained without power Monday morning. Most customers will see service restored today, the utility said in a release, but it will continue to monitor weather conditions.

. . . PG&E has warned that it will face more and larger fires in the future as a warmer climate creates more dangerous conditions for blazes. Already this year, California fires have burned more than 621,000 acres, according to state officials, a significant increase from the five year average burn of 215,000 acres.
=================

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gowlerk

The people in power care little for the people of California. Let us know if and when Appalachia is affected. MAGA



Pfft. The people in power care even less for the people of Appalachia.

Let them know when Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket or East Midtown Manhattan are affected.
"There are NO situations which do not call for a French Maid outfit." Lucky McSwervy

"~ya don't GET old by being weak & stupid!" - Airtwardo

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Well since the Harvard study come out are you going to try and stop the installation of large wind turbines?
"America will never be destroyed from the outside,
if we falter and lose our freedoms,
it will be because we destroyed ourselves."
Abraham Lincoln

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rushmc

Well since the Harvard study come out are you going to try and stop the installation of large wind turbines?



https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/10/large-scale-wind-power-has-its-down-side/

Quote

“Wind beats coal by any environmental measure, but that doesn’t mean that its impacts are negligible,” said David Keith, the Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and senior author of the papers. “We must quickly transition away from fossil fuels to stop carbon emissions.



It's sad there are so many people like you whose only goal is to prevent any kind of progress. You disregard the vast majority of science which overwhelmingly supports human caused climate change, and cherry pick articles and blatantly bullshit blogs to convince yourself it's not true.

And for what? You think you're winning something besides a more polluted world to live in?

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No doubt people in California are being forced to supply their own power at much greater expense. You see, California residents are in a hell of their own making. Mandates to supply x% renewable power has led to large deployment of wind and solar by utilities. But because most of that wind and solar power cannot be sited close to where it is needed, this puts much more strain on the transmission lines which are now being run so high capacity that they overheat and droop more frequently. Also large capacity nuclear and fossil must remain available for the many times when wind and solar production are low but demand is high. California has a serious case of Not In My Back Yard and prefers to import that power from out of state in those conditions, putting even more strain on transmission lines.

The Arizona ballot to mandate 50% renewables, if it passes, will only make matters worse. The way the power market pricing is structured, wind and solar generation are prioritized above all else (because their prices are artificially low). This requires conventional generators (fossil, nuclear, hydro) to ramp down or shutdown altogether when the wind/solar generation is high, even if the demand is low. The Palo Verde nuclear plant is the largest nuclear site in the country and exports a lot of its power to California. But nuclear plants cannot "turn on a dime" and if they shutdown, it takes a couple days to start back up again. If Arizona mandates 50% renewable, it will require Palo Verde to adjust its power and shutdown frequently, something the plant was not designed to do, and it will become uneconomical. Thus if the measure passes, Palo Verde will have no choice but to shutdown permanently. Then when demand is high but wind and solar are not cutting it, both Arizona and California will be royally screwed. Planned rolling blackouts will be a regular occurrence as it is in many 3rd world countries.
Max Peck
What's the point of having top secret code names, fellas, if we ain't gonna use 'em?

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skinnay


It's sad there are so many people like you whose only goal is to prevent any kind of progress.



Have you ever wondered how many coal enthusiasts would volunteer to work in a coal mine?:|
"There are only three things of value: younger women, faster airplanes, and bigger crocodiles" - Arthur Jones.

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ryoder

***
It's sad there are so many people like you whose only goal is to prevent any kind of progress.



Have you ever wondered how many coal enthusiasts would volunteer to work in a coal mine?:|

I would

Not that is in any way relevant to this discussion
"America will never be destroyed from the outside,
if we falter and lose our freedoms,
it will be because we destroyed ourselves."
Abraham Lincoln

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skinnay

***Well since the Harvard study come out are you going to try and stop the installation of large wind turbines?



https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/10/large-scale-wind-power-has-its-down-side/

Quote

“Wind beats coal by any environmental measure, but that doesn’t mean that its impacts are negligible,” said David Keith, the Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and senior author of the papers. “We must quickly transition away from fossil fuels to stop carbon emissions.



It's sad there are so many people like you whose only goal is to prevent any kind of progress. You disregard the vast majority of science which overwhelmingly supports human caused climate change, and cherry pick articles and blatantly bullshit blogs to convince yourself it's not true.

And for what? You think you're winning something besides a more polluted world to live in?

Well he gets those ideas right from the horse's ass:
Trump: Climate change scientists have 'political agenda'
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-45859325

trump says stuff like that as he talks to his base, The BBC reports comments like that and the whole world laughs at Americans.

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Quote

No doubt people in California are being forced to supply their own power at much greater expense.


Yep. Primarily because we now have to pay for the decommissioning of San Onofre ($10 billion.) That ends up being $1600 a person, spread out over some time frame. That adds up fast.
Quote

But because most of that wind and solar power cannot be sited close to where it is needed, this puts much more strain on the transmission lines which are now being run so high capacity that they overheat and droop more frequently.


1) Solar is not only often deployed close to where it is needed, it is often deployed on top of the thing that needs it (homes, factories, schools)

2) Wind power is in general not only far from most loads, it's far from transmission lines. So they have to build new ones anyway. And since it's also far from conventional generation, it more often unloads transmission lines than loads them.

3) Lines do indeed droop due to demand. If you add solar to the end of that line, demand goes down precisely when the lines are hottest. (Hot sunny days.) Unfortunately, that is not enough to counteract the problems from steady warming.
Quote

Planned rolling blackouts will be a regular occurrence as it is in many 3rd world countries.


California is now getting 20% of its generation from wind and solar. If integration of unreliable generation led to more grid problems/blackouts, then grid problems (both number of outages and duration of outages) would be going up. In fact, in two of the three big California utilities, they are going down. (The third isn't changing.)

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Rooftop solar is close to the load, I'll grant you that. It also doesn't supply much of the total and is far too expensive without being propped up with substantial subsidies (and is not dispatchable, forcing the utility to take it even at the expense of grid stability). I was referring to utility scale wind/solar being difficult on transmission. Yes wind farms have their own lines to tie them to an existing main, but it's the load on the main that gets strained. Granted much of this transmission infrastructure needs updating regardless, but those upgrades and repairs have been accelerated thanks to all the new renewable supply being added in distant areas (just one of many hidden costs that wind/solar get a free pass on). The easiest thing for our grid is to have central baseload plants near urban areas (such as fossil and nuclear) with gas peaker plants and supplemental wind/solar. Too much wind or solar causes a ripple effect of stability problems from what other plants need to do to accommodate. People take for granted all the work that goes on behind the scenes to supply that reliable electricity. It would be worth everyone's time to lookup your local transmission operator and ask for a tour of their control center.

As is often the case, climate change is just a red herring. Poor long term planning and state energy legislation are far more to blame for shutting down customers power, not warmer climates.
Max Peck
What's the point of having top secret code names, fellas, if we ain't gonna use 'em?

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rushmc

******
It's sad there are so many people like you whose only goal is to prevent any kind of progress.



Have you ever wondered how many coal enthusiasts would volunteer to work in a coal mine?:|

I would

Not that is in any way relevant to this discussion

What's stopping you?
"I encourage all awesome dangerous behavior." - Jeffro Fincher

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DJL

*********
It's sad there are so many people like you whose only goal is to prevent any kind of progress.



Have you ever wondered how many coal enthusiasts would volunteer to work in a coal mine?:|

I would

Not that is in any way relevant to this discussion

What's stopping you?

The commute would be a bitch.
"There are NO situations which do not call for a French Maid outfit." Lucky McSwervy

"~ya don't GET old by being weak & stupid!" - Airtwardo

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>Rooftop solar is close to the load, I'll grant you that. It also doesn't supply much of the total . .

?? We generate more than we use from our rooftop.

>is far too expensive without being propped up with substantial subsidies

Solar currently costs about $3/watt - and is already cheaper than grid power in 14 US states _without_ subsidies. The reason it's not more than that are the solar tariffs recently enacted.

>I was referring to utility scale wind/solar being difficult on transmission.

Again, utility scale solar reduces the load on transmission.

Take Las Vegas. They get most of their power from natural gas (and hydro) generation fairly close by, and the rest from the national grid. The recently opened Switch plants are close enough to the city (15 miles) that the energy feeds directly to the city. So when you look at the overall transmission requirements, they go down due to the locally sourced solar.

>Too much wind or solar causes a ripple effect of stability problems from what other plants
>need to do to accommodate.

Again, actual reliability records demonstrate that that is false.

>As is often the case, climate change is just a red herring. Poor long term planning and
>state energy legislation are far more to blame for shutting down customers power, not
>warmer climates.

Yes, poor planning is a big part of it. One of the reasons that we have poor planning is that there are still a lot of people who deny climate change, and so do not design infrastructure that will withstand it. Heck, we have states passing laws PROHIBITING planners from taking warming into account.

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AtrusBatleth

As is often the case, climate change is just a red herring..



Right there is where you lose every last shred of credibility. You may as well be claiming that Earth is a flat disk instead of an oblate spheroid.

Science isn't something in which one can believe or not; science is something one understands, or doesn't.
Math tutoring available. Only $6! per hour! First lesson: Factorials!

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jcd11235

***As is often the case, climate change is just a red herring..



Right there is where you lose every last shred of credibility. You may as well be claiming that Earth is a flat disk instead of an oblate spheroid.

Science isn't something in which one can believe or not; science is something one understands, or doesn't.

Huh? Perhaps you misunderstood my reference to a red herring: something that distracts from a relevant issue. I wasn't commenting on whether the climate is changing (I think it is), merely that it is a distraction from the more relevant man-made issues causing disruption of power and lines overheating and causing fires: inadequate line maintenance and planning for transmission needs due in part to renewable energy policies, not to mention the increased building near known fire-prone regions and policies to reduce smaller fire risks that, ironically, actually contribute to larger fire risks (by accumulating dry material that would normally burn off).
Max Peck
What's the point of having top secret code names, fellas, if we ain't gonna use 'em?

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Quote

inadequate line maintenance and planning for transmission needs due in part to renewable energy policies


Again, given that the California grid has become more reliable as more renewable energy has been added to it, that's not really defensible.

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Wasnt the original post about how rooftop solar sales were up because of outages, such as to prevent forest fires from overheated long-distance transmission lines? If California grid reliability is improving (it may well be, but the demand curve is still getting more erratic, but newer NG plants are better at responding to those instabilities), then fewer people should be motivated to switch to rooftop solar. Why then draw attention to the recent power outages?

Regarding $3/watt, I am skeptical that is unsubsidized. That is well in the range for homeowner installation cost, AFTER subsidies. Are you perhaps thinking only of the federal tax credit that recently expired? Because there are other subsidies from both federal and state levels (or even more local regions). If you are fortunate enough to live in a net metering region, there are additional hidden subsidies being paid by your non-rooftop-solar ratepayers. Fortunate for you that is. If you want to go off-grid entirely, more power to ya. But unless your independent power system includes battery banks with a full gaurunteed warranty of the complete system (solar cells, inverters, and batteries including disposal costs) for the entire lifetime, then you're not really considering the true cost of that system. Even if your local solar salesman convinced you it would save you money, you're really just taking on additional long-term financial and supply risk in exchange. If you truly factored in those added risks and future costs, you're not going to be saving any money vs staying hooked up to your local utility. But like I said, if you want to go off-grid then have at it. But if you are staying connected to the grid then you're only making things more complicated and costly for the rest of us. There's good reason why some utilities put a limit on what percentage of homes can install local distributed generation yet still stay connected and reap all the benefits of the grid.
Max Peck
What's the point of having top secret code names, fellas, if we ain't gonna use 'em?

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Wasnt the original post about how rooftop solar sales were up because of outages, such as to prevent forest fires from overheated long-distance transmission lines? If California grid reliability is improving (it may well be, but the demand curve is still getting more erratic, but newer NG plants are better at responding to those instabilities), then fewer people should be motivated to switch to rooftop solar. Why then draw attention to the recent power outages?


The reason that reliability is getting better is that utilities have paid a lot of attention to outages (and more importantly transient upsets that don't lead to outages) - and have fixed the problems that cause them.

Quote

Regarding $3/watt, I am skeptical that is unsubsidized.


OK. Raw panel cost is now hovering at 50 cents a watt. (Or was before the tariffs; they have now gone a little higher.) When I first looked at solar circa 1987, they were running at $10 a watt. That's the primary factor that has driven costs down.

Quote

If you truly factored in those added risks and future costs, you're not going to be saving any money vs staying hooked up to your local utility.


Or, if things go the other way and power prices rise, you are going to be saving even more than you expect.

Quote

But if you are staying connected to the grid then you're only making things more complicated and costly for the rest of us.


I am making things better (and cheaper) for the rest of the grid.

Quote

There's good reason why some utilities put a limit on what percentage of homes can install local distributed generation yet still stay connected and reap all the benefits of the grid.


Absolutely. They want to roll it out slowly, to see what they have to change about the grid to accommodate it (like installing better current sensors and protection devices.) Most utilities set a limit of a percent or so, then increase it when they get to 1% penetration without any issues.

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AtrusBatleth

Even if your local solar salesman convinced you it would save you money, you're really just taking on additional long-term financial and supply risk in exchange.



You do get that solar is the least risky energy source of all, right? If the sun goes out, everyone's screwed, not just the folks who have solar panels.
Math tutoring available. Only $6! per hour! First lesson: Factorials!

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jcd11235

***Even if your local solar salesman convinced you it would save you money, you're really just taking on additional long-term financial and supply risk in exchange.



You do get that solar is the least risky energy source of all, right? If the sun goes out, everyone's screwed, not just the folks who have solar panels.

I didn't think I would have to explain this, but the future risk I was referring to was a problem with your solar cells, inverters, and/or batteries. I was not referring to the sun going out. :D And the supply risk was referring to a string of cloudy days or perhaps partial cell damage that prevent fully charging batteries, or diminished battery capacity or unexpected high usage that results in an unplanned outage.
Max Peck
What's the point of having top secret code names, fellas, if we ain't gonna use 'em?

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billvon


Quote

But if you are staying connected to the grid then you're only making things more complicated and costly for the rest of us.


I am making things better (and cheaper) for the rest of the grid.



No, you're not. At least not if you benefit from fixed net metering (I don't know what region you are in), which was what I am referring to. You are supplying the grid with your excess power in the middle of the day, then receiving power from the grid in the evening. With more solar on the grid there is less demand for other sources during mid-day which results in low prices on the power market. During the early evening when solar generation is waning yet the overall demand is reaching the peak (as people get home from work), prices are high on the power market. Other supply sources need to ramp up even more dramatically because solar generation is going down just as demand is needed the most. So with net metering, you get to sell power for more than it's worth and buy power for less than it's worth. Sweet deal for you. Bad deal for the other utility customers. Just Google the duck curve.
Max Peck
What's the point of having top secret code names, fellas, if we ain't gonna use 'em?

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AtrusBatleth

******Even if your local solar salesman convinced you it would save you money, you're really just taking on additional long-term financial and supply risk in exchange.



You do get that solar is the least risky energy source of all, right? If the sun goes out, everyone's screwed, not just the folks who have solar panels.

I didn't think I would have to explain this, but the future risk I was referring to was a problem with your solar cells, inverters, and/or batteries. I was not referring to the sun going out. :D And the supply risk was referring to a string of cloudy days or perhaps partial cell damage that prevent fully charging batteries, or diminished battery capacity or unexpected high usage that results in an unplanned outage.

Which is why you do a bunch of studies before getting solar installed that look at the average expected amount of sun, the intensity (rate of production) as well as the expected usage. You then decide how many cells to put on your roof.

Let me ask you this - do you always put exactly enough gas in your car to JUST get to your destination? Of course not. You make sure you have an excess.
When you look at your solar requirements you do the same. You factor in worst case usages and production and go from there. At least you do if you've got any sense. That gives you a total cost for installation.
For us, the ROI was about 9 years with every part having a minimum of 20 years warranty.

That said, for us it didn't make sense at the time. I'm rethinking it now.

There are also a bunch of ways to purchase solar. If you can afford to buy it outright you're not taking on any financial risk. In fact you're adding value to your home. If you choose to lease the equipment that's got it's own issues, as does simply letting a solar company install on your home for free and a guaranteed monthly payment that's less than your local electricity supplier.

It's not for everyone and it's still a developing technology, but sure as shit fossil fuels ARE going to run out. That's a fact. We'd better have something in place before that happens because if we're scrambling in an emergency when that happens everything will cost 10x more and be 10x less effective.

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yoink

*********Even if your local solar salesman convinced you it would save you money, you're really just taking on additional long-term financial and supply risk in exchange.



You do get that solar is the least risky energy source of all, right? If the sun goes out, everyone's screwed, not just the folks who have solar panels.

I didn't think I would have to explain this, but the future risk I was referring to was a problem with your solar cells, inverters, and/or batteries. I was not referring to the sun going out. :D And the supply risk was referring to a string of cloudy days or perhaps partial cell damage that prevent fully charging batteries, or diminished battery capacity or unexpected high usage that results in an unplanned outage.

Which is why you do a bunch of studies before getting solar installed that look at the average expected amount of sun, the intensity (rate of production) as well as the expected usage. You then decide how many cells to put on your roof.

Let me ask you this - do you always put exactly enough gas in your car to JUST get to your destination? Of course not. You make sure you have an excess.
When you look at your solar requirements you do the same. You factor in worst case usages and production and go from there. At least you do if you've got any sense. That gives you a total cost for installation.
For us, the ROI was about 9 years with every part having a minimum of 20 years warranty.

That said, for us it didn't make sense at the time. I'm rethinking it now.

There are also a bunch of ways to purchase solar. If you can afford to buy it outright you're not taking on any financial risk. In fact you're adding value to your home. If you choose to lease the equipment that's got it's own issues, as does simply letting a solar company install on your home for free and a guaranteed monthly payment that's less than your local electricity supplier.

It's not for everyone and it's still a developing technology, but sure as shit fossil fuels ARE going to run out. That's a fact. We'd better have something in place before that happens because if we're scrambling in an emergency when that happens everything will cost 10x more and be 10x less effective.

To be clear, I was talking about going completely off-grid and supplying your own power independently. When you are 100% responsible for your electricity supply, plenty of unexpected things can happen, which would still present a financial risk even if you paid outright for the solar installation. That's why most smart people would buy insurance to cover things like a hail storm, batteries losing capacity 10 years down the road, or a flood in your house that damages your battery bank/inverters, etc. If you are completely off-grid and are covered with full insurance, without any subsidies, and your ROI is 9 years, I'd like to see your math. But if you're still connected to the grid, it's not going to be an honest comparison given that you have an unfair advantage on the power market pricing. For example, when some regions in Hawaii started enforcing time-of-day pricing in an attempt to level the playing field, many homeowners found that the ROI on rooftop solar was much further out and no longer cost-justified. And if your insurance has some exceptions that would not be covered, then there is still future risk you are taking. When you buy your power from a utility, all those risks and insurance are already factored into the rate that you pay, which is why it is an apples-to-oranges comparison when homeowners "think" they are saving money, but really they are just increasing their risk (or robbing from other ratepayers in the case of net metering).
Max Peck
What's the point of having top secret code names, fellas, if we ain't gonna use 'em?

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