Saturday, May 12, 2018

22m PREPA Customers without light/ MWs of power on pier 4

In a recent Caribbean Business article

Reporter Eva Llorens Velez says:

"Some of the senators noted that if Puerto Rico wants to be resilient and produce 30% of the energy with renewable sources, system redundancy must be in place. Bruce Walker, the assistant secretary of the U.S. Energy Department’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, spoke at length about strategies to make the grid more resilient."

I find that most of the time "renewable" is code for solar and wind, although there are other renewable alternatives (nuclear, landfill gas, OTEC, waste to energy, cogeneration, to name a few).

Getting people to switch from electric to propane for cooking, water heating and clothes drying would save a lot of energy each year even though propane may not be renewable.
I've posted enough on solar and wind that I won't go into why they are bad ideas again.

Whatever else they are and are not, they are NOT resilient. Not in the face of a hurricane. 

Yes, we need reliable, resilient, power. Yes, we need the power distributed around the island. It is ridiculous that Fajardo gets its power from Peñuelas. Not just for resiliency but for the cost of transmitting that power all that distance. We need a large number of smaller, 100-500MW plants, perhaps even smaller than 100MW widely distributed.  

Many manufacturing plants would like to build microgrids and there is no reason why they can't do it safely and effectively. 

Except PREPA:

“We have not been able to do that in the past because typically Prepa protects its invoices. We are the biggest invoice. They may be concerned about this kind of threat,” he [Rodrigo Masses] said.

Longer term, I am hoping to see some of these small, package, nuclear power plants in PR in the next 5 years. Now that would be resilient AND renewable. They can put the first one in my backyard at Roosevelt Roads.  

I won't feel threatened at all. But perhaps that is because I know something about the safety of nuclear power.

Udate on Sta Isabel Windfarm

A week or two back I noted that, even though there seemed to be plenty of wind, the Sta Isabel windmills were not turning.

I drove past last night and most of them were spinning merrily around. 3-4 were stopped but the rest were running.

So perhaps they are undamaged and/or repaired after all.

John Henry

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Open Thread

This will be an open thread to discuss anything energy related in the comments.

Have at it!

PRASA Gennys

Forgot the picture of Luquillo

This is in Bo Fortuna

PRASA generator

Why does PRASA still have generators (and 24/7 guards) at pumping stations?

All three of these were running today and have been for months.

These are in rio grande, Luquillo and Fajardo.

Power has been restored at all 3 locations since jan/feb

Anybody know?

Monday, April 23, 2018

I was coming home from Ponce Wednesday and decided that rather than take the expressway as I normally so, I would drive up and around the coast.

I drove through Guayama and drove up close to the AES coal plant. There was some steam venting but, looking closely at the heat plume, or rather the lack of a plume, it appeared that the plant might have been offline.

I also drove close to the Aguirre plant. Again, a bit of steam venting but not much of a heat plume.

In Yabucoa, at least 2 of the 3 gas turbines were running and, from the plumes, running fairly hard. Ditto the 2 GTs in Ceiba.

Santa Isabel Windfarm

Thursday I drove past the Santa Isabel windfarm. As you can see from the flag, it seemed fairly windy. As you can see from the windmills, only 3 of the 30 or so were actually turning. I have no idea why. 

In a letter to the PR Energy Commission last year, the owners of the windmills said that there was no apparent storm damage but they could not be operated for two reasons:

1) The transmission lines were still down so they had no way to get the power into the grid. That seemed reasonable in October, not so reasonable today. 

2) The other reason, which took me aback, was that they cannot operate the windmills unless they can receive utility power to energize their generators. I can understand needing some power to energize controls, get the windmill pointed in the right direction and energize the generator coils. That would not seem like a lot of power and a relatively small diesel generator should be able to supply it.

One more reason the whole idea of using wind to generate utility scale electricity seems harder and harder for me to understand.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A brief history of PREPA

Been meaning to post this for a while and not getting around to it.

This is a history of PREPA and its antecedents in the electric game. Interesting throughout.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

50mw factory nuclear generators

I've said before that I think we need to keep an open mind to nuclear power.

These modular nukes are built in a factory and erected onsite. Perhaps these or something like them is the key to acompact, hurricane proof and sustainable future.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Warehouse 5 fake news update

El nueva dia was on the warehouse 5 story right away and got it right. See my post below. The justice dept just issued their report.

There were no materials hidden in warehouse 5. It was fake news. I don't know who ginned it up or why but am happy to see it put to sleep.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Naguabo windmills update

The regional weekly Presencia has an update on the totally destroyed windfarm in Naguabo. The owners say they will rebuild as soon as they get the insurance money.

Me? I doubt it. I expect that 5 years from now the will still be unrepaired. A good thing too as their output is horribly overpriced. 18 cents vs 10-12 for guayama's coal fired and Penuelas' gas generated juice. Us long suffering prepa customers just can't afford it.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

PREPA Warehouse 5

A couple weeks ago there were reports about PREPA squirreling away parts and supplies in a Cataño warehouse. Big headlines: ARMED FEDERAL AGENTS RAID WAREHOUSE!!! and so forth.

Turns out that this was just more fake news. Yes, ARMED!!! federal agents did go to the warehouse but pretty much all federal agents are armed so there is nothing unusual about this. It does works as a headline to get people spun up, though.

El Nueva Dia went to investigate (Good for you, END, for doing your job properly) and here is what they found:

PREPA “Warehouse 5" was no secret

The public corporation attributes federal intervention to a communication problem

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 10:05 AM

However, the Director of Transmission and Distribution of PREPA, José Sepúlveda Aponte, showed this newspaper documents that prove that, shortly after the passage of hurricane María, crews from PREPA and from private companies hired by the public corporation, as well as the Corps of Engineers, started looking for materials at that warehouse.
"All the new metal (transmission) towers that have been installed came from warehouse 5. It is the only warehouse with that material," he said.

Between September and October, about 200 requests were made, mostly by PREPA crews, according to the logbook shown to this newspaper. There are also entries made by Whitefish and Cobra companies.

As of October 28, there are entries of private crews hired by the Corps of Engineers, such as one made by Flour-Pike on October 28 for works on line 36800 in Canóvanas. There is also an entry on November 11 for that same line.

Meanwhile, on November 18 a crew of the New York Power Authority, also subcontracted by the Corps of Engineers, appears. In another document he highlighted that Fluor was also in the warehouse in December, as well as Con Edison.

There was no information available about entries made after December.

Read the whole thing. My guess is that this was a political "SWATing" designed to gin up controversy. Much like the fake controversy that was ginned up over Whitefish.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Friday, January 26, 2018

Comments on PR Microgrid Regulations

In an earlier post I had linked to the proposed microgrid regulations, expressed my support and mentioned a couple of comments. I finally got them written up and submitted. My complete comments are below

26 January 2018
Puerto Rico Energy Commission
San Juan PR

Good morning!
I have lived in Puerto Rico since 1971. For the past 30 years I have had no intercourse with PREPA other than as a residential customer. I work with industrial manufacturing and have long been concerned that a reliable and reasonably priced electrical supply is one of the top priorities for any company manufacturing or contemplating manufacturing on the island. This is also true of any other company in or coming to Puerto Rico.

In the 1970s and 80s I worked for a pharmaceutical manufacturer as Manager, Facility Operations. At that time PREPA’s inability to supply reliable power, at any cost, was a major problem. It was so major that it led me to develop one of the first microgrids in Puerto Rico, though we did not call it that at the time. Due to legal opposition by PREPA we never put it into operation. It did give me an opportunity to learn a lot about PREPA and Puerto Rico’s electrical system. I have maintained a layman’s interest in energy in general and PREPA in particular ever since.

I am very happy to see the microgrid initiative and I think this is just what Puerto Rico needs. A great deal of thought has obviously gone into the microgrid regulations and I congratulate you on a job well done.

I have a few comments that I would like included in the record. 

11.There is excessive emphasis, in my opinion, on solar. While solar has some applications in Puerto Rico, I do not think it should be permitted to be a major source of energy.

a.    It is fragile. As we saw in Maria, it does not stand up well to hurricanes. This installation in Humacao is a good example.

b.    Solar occupies far too much land for the amount of power that it generates. AES has solar and coal at their Guayama site. Each occupies roughly similar amounts of land. The solar facility generates about 5MW effective or about the equivalent of a truck portable diesel plant. The coal plant generates 454MW. 

c.    AES has mentioned building 10,000MW nominal, 2,500MW effective of solar in Puerto Rico. Allowing 5 acres per nominal MW, this would occupy almost 80 square miles of land. That is a lot on our small island. The yellow box on this picture shows 80 square miles relative to Puerto Rico.

The solar will not be built in a single installation, of course. It will be distributed in smaller blocks across the island. It is still 80 square miles total. Some will be built on rooftops, parking lots and so on. A lot, probably most, will displace existing flora, even if just weeds and will make the land unavailable for any other use. These plants absorb CO2 so the impact on CO2 emissions of this much vegetation being destroyed needs to be evaluated.

d.    Solar power in Puerto Rico is expensive. Is there any assurance that it will be less expensive in the future? PREPA has 20 year contracts to pay 18c/kwh for solar power with AES, the Humacao solar facility and others. In contrast, it purchases power from AES (coal) and EcoElectrica (natural gas) for between 9 and 12 cents/kwh over the past 4-5 years. Solar should only be encouraged if the power is competitively priced.

22.    Reliability of power must be a major concern of the regulation. Solar, and to a lesser extent wind, power plant outputs fluctuate from maximum to zero over the course of a day. Cloudy weather or low winds will cause fluctuations. Output also varies seasonally.

Battery storage will help smooth this out. However, most of the systems in use and contemplated provide limited backup power for 6-12 hours generally. This leaves solar customers without power at night and during multi-day cloudy periods as are common in Puerto Rico. A succession of still days will leave wind customers without power as well once the batteries run down. Currently this is not a problem because PREPA provides, in effect, an infinite battery or standby power. This may be a legitimate strategy for wind/solar generators but it is not free. PREPA must constantly maintain hot capacity ready to make up any shortfalls. If the wind/solar generators do not pay the full cost of this excess ready capacity, the costs will fall on the ratepayers or on Puerto Rican taxpayers.

Any microgrid regulation must require extended time backup power to be paid for by microgrid customers. If it can’t be provided by PREPA, the microgrid owner must be required to provide a diesel, gas turbine or other power supply that can run for an indefinite time, subject to fuel and maintenance.
 3.  Cogeneration/CHP is mentioned as a potential generation source for microgrids. I think that currently this is Puerto Rico’s most important potential power source. One problem with CHP in Puerto Rico is how to use the waste heat. Combined cycle plants, generating electrical power from both main engine and waste heat are getting smaller and smaller. There are many and many applications in Puerto Rico in the 0.5 to 1MW range. It is not clear whether or not these are included in the microgrid regulation. I believe that the regulation should be clarified to explicitly permit combined cycle CHP.

   4. Wheeling should be encouraged. This would allow microgrids to sell power to other microgrids. As I understand the proposal, they can do this but only if contiguous, transferring directly between microgrids. I believe that PREPA should be required to allow microgrids to sell power to each other, over PREPA lines, even if non-contiguous. A microgrid in Mayaguez should be permitted to sell power to a microgrid in Fajardo. The microgrid must pay a fee to PREPA sufficient to cover all costs and perhaps a bit extra. This would help PREPA recover some of the revenue lost from microgrid generation. It would also aid in disaster recovery as most hurricanes hit the eastern part of Puerto Rico hardest.

55.    Nuclear power should be included as a potential microgrid energy source. We are likely to see, in the next 10 years, packaged nuclear power plants in the 1-100MW range. Nuclear is the ultimate clean, renewable and sustainable energy. These could be ideal power sources for large microgrids, or as some call them, minigrids.

Again, let me emphasize how welcome these regulations are and how they will go a long way to providing for Puerto Rico’s energy future. Thank you for your efforts and consideration. Please contact me if you would like any elaboration on the comments above.