MINOT, N.D. — North Dakota's power grid is really a patchwork of two operators.
One is called MISO, or the Midcontinent Independent System Operator. The other is the SPP, or Southwest Power Pool. When I say that these two cover North Dakota like a patchwork, I'm not kidding. This map from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission shows what I'm talking about:
After more than a week of arctic temperatures one of these power grids, the SPP, has called on its member utilities to implement "controlled interruptions" of power service.
This isn't great news. Temperatures have warmed a bit from the extreme lows over the weekend, but they're still barely above zero.
Millions in Texas are suffering through blackouts as that state's power grid — called ERCOT — struggles to keep up with demand. Now some in North Dakota may be joining them.
It's not clear yet how SPP's announcement will impact North Dakota power customers. Most of those served by the grid live in South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and northern Texas, and utilities have some discretion when it comes to implementing these blackouts.
There likely won't be a uniform solution throughout the region served by SPP.
After declaring an Energy Emergency Alert Level 3 at 10:08 a.m. this morning, and after exhausting all other options to ensure the continued reliability of the regional grid, SPP is directing member utilities to implement controlled interruptions of service effective immediately. pic.twitter.com/I6DY8B5Rvn— Southwest Power Pool (@SPPorg) February 15, 2021
As I wrote earlier today, the problem in Texas is wind. The ERCOT power grid, which covers most of the state, has the largest amount of wind power in the nation, but about half of the wind turbines serving that grid are sitting idle, producing no power in this frigid weather.
The SPP, like ERCOT, has been hyping the amount of wind power they've brought on board in recent years.
"This past weekend, wind power set a new record in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), the regional grid that covers most of the midwestern United States," a blog post from a wind industry group proclaimed in April 2019. "On April 21, wind’s share of power generation reached 66.5 percent for the region. According to SPP, wind provided 14,063 megawatts (MW) of its 21,148 MW total load."
I can't get the SPP's website to load, as I write this, but earlier today at 10:50 CT I was able to capture a screenshot of the grid's power mix, and it was showing just over 10% coming from wind.
Coal, meanwhile, was at nearly 44% while natural gas made up just about 33%.
Here's how the mix looked for the MISO grid at about 10:40am. Again, coal was carrying the load, followed by natural gas. Wind made up less than 4% of the grid's mix:
The proponents of wind energy, the folks who defend the government's decision to promote wind use far beyond real-world market demand, tell us that grid reliability isn't a problem.
The wind industry's army of lobbyists may even be able to find some spin they hope will convince you, as you consider this situation, that it still isn't a problem.
But I'm telling you, it's a problem, and it's time we cut through the miasma of rent-seeking and "green" politics around this issue to see the truth.
To comment on this article, visit www.sayanythingblog.com
Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.