ERCOT’s Dirty little Kissing Cousins – Natural Gas & Electricity Interdependency Flaws

Affíí Vysavač Chcípni and Štěpán Bartoš

Photo with Affíí Vysavač Chcípni and Štěpán Bartoš

Update to include a 1966 study of this interdependency fossil fuel FLAW.
Update with bold face for emphasis 3/31/2014 “This past winter has highlighted the critical and growing interdependence of natural gas pipelines and electricity markets,” Acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur said. “Today’s orders take steps to recognize and address that interdependence to optimize the use of our gas and electric networks for the benefit of all customers. We look forward to receiving comments from a wide range of stakeholders.” “Today’s set of orders build upon our earlier efforts to better coordinate the actions of the natural gas and electricity industries, with particular emphasis now on improving the scheduling practices of the natural gas transportation and electricity markets,” Commissioner Philip Moeller said….and urge all stakeholders to review our proposals and suggest potential improvements.”
……end update….
I claim that Natural Gas is most unreliable when needed the most-during freezes. Here is a recent article for example where in January in N Dakota both gas AND oil production suffered.
update…March 2, 2014 seems that Natural Gas fired engines (like those used on buses and garbage trucks) have a recall with Cummins/Wesport where condensate and freezing temps play havoc with the sensors.
update…Jan 6, 2014 we had a close call to rolling brownouts…seems that maybe the Glenrose Luminant nuclear plant had to repair a water pump and probably taxed the grid. Since I’ve already blogged about the fracking related risks to that power plant and before I explain why natural gas and electricity are NOT good kissing cousins, here are some
fracking questions to ask “when” the power goes out…..
1) How are all the drill sites, pipelines, compressor stations, procesing plants, and refineries doing?
2) If the waste hauling trucks cannot get to the storage tanks from over filling/spilling…the wells will auto shut in right?
3) And if the wells heads shut in from either freezing up or to prevent the storage tanks from spills, then will that cause a disruption to those power plants that use natural gas instead of coal?
4) If electricity powers any of these (lift) compressor engines, (like the ones in our neighborhoods now) won’t they have an “upset” aka a toxic release to the airshed emission events?
5) Doesn’t ice cause tree limbs to break and then down power lines to continue this cycle of power losses/emission events?
6) Why can’t we just go off the the grid and use solar and wind …aren’t those inputs free? I don’t mind paying for the needed jobs in mfg. installing, and maintaining the (renewable nergy related) equipment & infrastructures.
7) Oh and isn’t the wind and sun non toxic and non-explosive to us if we tap, spill, spew, or ignite them?

The concept of (Urban Drilling) Electric Compressor Stations was conceived through the illegal marriage of drilling and cohabitating in densly populated neighborhoods.  These electric compressor are found on both the pad sites where production has petered, and some are housed in Arlington (I’m told there are 7) in undisclosed, benign, Walmart looking structures. The reasoning behind using electric powered compressors is that they SHOULD BE void of combustion pollution (until they need maintenance or have upsets).

The interdependency problem with electric compressor stations is that they depend on ONcor electricity for power to keep the gas going through the pipelines.

Likewise, ONcor depends on natural gas to power these huge, gas-fired turbines so the power plants can make electricity and contribute to the grid.

The “upstream” supplier of the Natural Gas in Arlington is predominantly Chesapeake.

DFW Midstream is a known name in our area for our “midstream” activites of transporting (pipelines), compression, and storage phases.

Drilling companies and midstream suppliers ensure that……

  • the production at the drill sites flow to
  • the (unregulated) gathering lines to the bumper stations, to
  • the URBAN, electric, compressor stations to
  • the gas plants for purification & odorization, to the
  • (regulated) transmissions lines to the end-user/gas fired power plants.

Any one of these networks can break down for maintenance, accidents, *weather, terrorism, or other disruptions. This can (and has already has) affected the end-user utility companies “upstream” availability of natural gas. Couple this interdependency flaw with population growth & untempered demand, and you have a Texas sized risk recipe for rolling black outs from the grid.

Texas and New England are about 40% dependant on natural gas at their power plants, so they have EVEN MORE interdependency risk than other states.

Natural Gas and Electricity generated from gas-fired power plants aren’t good kissing cousins.

In the summer of 2011, Texas’ power grid set record level power use for three consecutive days. The high demand topped off at 68,294 megawatts in early August.”

The sun doesn’t always shine,

and the wind doesn’t always blow,

but when it comes to natural gas-

the pipelines don’t always flow.

Texas and New Mexico power outages February of 2011 during the extended freeze was a lesson learned about how not so great/reliable natural gas is.

When the price of natural goes back up …I read that some power plants will just switch back to burning coal-whatever is cheaper (this won’t help Chesapeake).

But wait it gets worse…ERCOT says demand cannot keep up with supply and that

“one of its statewide priorities will be to address growing power demands tied to booming oil and gas production in the Permian Basin of West Texas and Eagle Ford Shale in the south. The expected completion this year of increased transmission capacity to Dallas-Fort Worth from West Texas, where wind generation has mushroomed in recent years, should help ease some congestion.”

Read more:

*I blogged about this interdependency in  more detail last winter when I was concerned about the risks to well heads freezing up, or roads being shut down to the padsites. When a produced water truck cannot get to a pad site to evacuate the fluids from the storage tanks, two things can happen…
1) the tank will fill up and trigger an auto wellhead shut in and cease production, or
2) the tanks can overflow and become an environmental and health issue.

About Kim Triolo Feil

Since TX Statute 253.005 forbids drilling in heavily settled municipalities, I unsuccessfully ran for City Council Seat to try to enforce this. Since Urban Drilling, our drinking water has almost tripled for TTHM's. Before moving to Arlington in 1990, I lived in Norco’s “cancer alley”, a refinery town. It was only after Urban Drilling in Arlington did I start having health effects. After our drill site was established closest to my home, the chronic nosebleeds started. I know there are more canaries here in Arlington having reactions to our industrialized airshed (we have 55-60 padsites of gas wells). Come forward and report to me those having health issues especially if you live to the north/northwest of a drill site so I can map your health effects on this blog. My youtube account is KimFeilGood. FAIR USE NOTICE: THIS SITE MAY CONTAIN COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL THE USE OF WHICH HAS NOT ALWAYS BEEN SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED BY THE COPYRIGHT OWNER. MATERIAL FROM DIVERSE AND SOMETIMES TEMPORARY SOURCES IS BEING MADE AVAILABLE IN A PERMANENT UNIFIED MANNER, AS PART OF AN EFFORT TO ADVANCE UNDERSTANDING OF THE SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUES ASSOCIATED WITH EMINENT DOMAIN AND THE PRIVATIZATION OF PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE (AMONG OTHER THINGS). IT IS BELIEVED THAT THIS IS A 'FAIR USE' OF THE INFORMATION AS ALLOWED UNDER SECTION 107 OF THE US COPYRIGHT LAW. IN ACCORDANCE WITH TITLE 17 USC SECTION 107, THE SITE IS MAINTAINED WITHOUT PROFIT FOR THOSE WHO ACCESS IT FOR RESEARCH AND EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES. FOR MORE INFORMATION, SEE: HTTP://WWW.LAW.CORNELL.EDU/ TO USE MATERIAL REPRODUCED ON THIS SITE FOR PURPOSES THAT GO BEYOND 'FAIR USE', PERMISSION IS REQUIRED FROM THE COPYRIGHT OWNER INDICATED WITH A NAME AND INTERNET LINK AT THE END OF EACH ITEM. (NOTE: THE TEXT OF THIS NOTICE WAS ALSO LIFTED FROM CORRIDORNEWS.BLOGSPOT.COM)
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