Unable to capitalize on a high level of coal-fired power plant outages, October gas generation fell 14 percent compared to last year due to lower electricity demand, and a combination of increased renewables and nuclear generation.
According to private energy data firm Genscape, electricity demand was back to April levels with a quicker fall of the cooling load in California and Arizona, which experienced cooler than seasonal conditions. In PJM and MISO warmer than seasonal weather kept the area within shoulder season range and prevented early heating load events.
Renewable energy was also up as the increase in installed wind capacity continues to play a major role in power generation. In the fourth quarter of 2012, 8,380 MW of wind was added to the grid as projects rushed to take advantage of the expiring federal renewable electricity production tax credit.
Over the last year, areas like ERCOT and CAISO have continued to see tremendous growth in wind capacity. A favorable weather pattern with persistently strong southerly wind flow and the near 500 MW year-over-year increase in installed capacity helped drive ERCOT’s wind generation up 9 percent in October 2013.
Genscape’s proprietary monitors indicated 40 plant outages by the last week of October, which was the highest number of monitored outages seen year-to-date. The outage at the 2 GW Monticello unit in east Texas, one of the many outages Genscape detected in October, helped spark a 14 percent uptick in gas-fired generation in the south to end the month.
Year-to-date gas-fired generation continues to trail 2012 by 13 percent. It has lost considerable ground to coal-fired generation and weaker power demand, as well as stronger renewable generation and nuclear output. Coal-fired generation is up 65,530 GWh (+5 percent) year-to-date, renewables are up 24,464 GWh (+6 percent), and nuclear output is up 9,718 GWh (+2 percent).