Thank Coal, Gas for Your Warm House Today

PJM generation mix as of 8 a.m. this morning. Coal, natural gas and nuclear are meeting the vast majority of the demand.

By Steve Haner

Good morning, Virginia.  Your lights and heat are on, and you can thank coal and natural gas. Here are the 8 a.m. charts from PJM’s website, which you can check periodically today as the winter weather closes in. Those fuels were providing more than 66% of our electricity, with nuclear providing almost another third. Go to the website for the interactive version. The 9 a.m. chart is little changed.

The data are for the entire PJM region, not just Virginia.

Billions of dollars into the renewable energy transition, various renewable sources were providing less than 6 megawatts throughout the entire system, not even 5% of demand. Solar should increase a bit as the day proceeds, but the projection (on the same website) is that wind will dip toward the middle of the day.

The breakdown of generation from renewable sources, mainly hydro. The solar output should improve but in much of the region winter storm clouds will continue to limit it, and snow may pile up on solar panels.

Remember, this is a holiday and the peak demand projected for the workday tomorrow is higher. But the sun may be back to help at least a bit.

We could be Alberta, Canada. Here is what they are going through. Or Texas. Read those links and know, that is the future the General Assembly and the wind and solar industrial complex that owns it have planned for us.


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45 responses to “Thank Coal, Gas for Your Warm House Today”

  1. Kathleen Smith Avatar
    Kathleen Smith

    Thanks for the website. I am a gas user and warm!

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Dual system here, gas downstairs and heat pump up. Very efficient. But as this proves, even my heat pump is running on gas, coal and nuke. And will be for a long, long time despite all the noise.

      1. Randy Huffman Avatar
        Randy Huffman

        When I was having my house built it was going to be the same, propane heat in first floor (with an AC unit for summer) and heat pump upstairs. But I had them put in dual fuel in so heat pump on first floor runs till about 38 degrees, then shifts to propane, it cost very little more.

        I also have a basement woodstove that brings the heat upstairs, so I really have three fuels, and boy does it make a difference at times.

        As an added note, (I am a strong believe in fossil fuels and worked for an Energy company for years) I put in solar panels a couple years ago for various reasons. It covers all my electric usage in the summer and I bank credits, but no where near enough in the winter so I pay Dominion then. I didn’t size it to cover 100% of a year, but I felt it made sense to put them in even though the numbers did not technically justify it.

  2. James Kiser Avatar
    James Kiser

    Or you could be like CA and power you EV charging stations with a diesel generator. Coalinga CA which has the largest EV charging station in the state is too big to use solar or wind and there fore is using a diesel generator for power.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      geeze…

      ” “Swirling internet rumors” centered on Harris Ranch Resort in Coalinga have officials there attempting to set the record straight.

      Controversy was resurrected beginning last month when sfgate.com published a story headlined “Tesla’s dirty little secret on California’s I-5.”

      The secret? The Harris Ranch Tesla Supercharger facility along Interstate 5 in Coalinga — the largest in the world with 98 charging bays — is powered by a small diesel plant “hidden in plain site.”

      The truth? A building reportedly associated with this diesel plant is actually a storage facility and office for the Harris Ranch Express BBQ management team. There are no diesel plants or diesel generators on Harris Ranch property, “a point we fervently assert,” according to a statement issued by Harris Ranch Resort on Thursday.”

      https://thebusinessjournal.com/blog-harris-ranch-sets-record-straight-on-diesel-powered-tesla-supercharger-allegations/#:~:text=The%20Harris%20Ranch%20Tesla%20Supercharger,%E2%80%9Chidden%20in%20plain%20site.%E2%80%9D

      geeze, this is what gives youse guys a bad name sometimes…

  3. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Renewables have their limitations. Non-renewables have a limit.

    Pay me now, or pay me later.

  4. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    One of the old timers at church asked me to come out stack her firewood that was to be delivered. I thought it would be no more than half a cord. Until I saw the dump truck pull up and dump 3 cords in the driveway. It took me 6 hours to stack all of that wood. Nice deal. 525 bucks delivered. It will take a really cold winter to burn that up by spring.

    1. Germany considers wood a ‘renewable’ fuel source

      1. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
        James Wyatt Whitehead

        It is good heat. The lady’s house is a sauna. At age 85 she brings the wood in from the shed into her house by herself.

          1. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
            James Wyatt Whitehead

            One day I will have one of those. I know a guy that has one. He swears by it.

          2. Looks like a Porta-Potty…

          3. LarrytheG Avatar

            feed directly from woodpile:

            https://www.woodmaster.com/outdoor/

  5. Donald Smith Avatar
    Donald Smith

    I’m all for renewable energy, ONCE it proves itself to be reliable and cost-efficient. I suspect that, in 10-20 years, the technology to make renewables trustworthy will be there. Until then, three cheers for fossil fuels! Hip hip…

    1. As the data centers suck up all the new power…. leaving homes in the lurch with the price rising beyond most people’s wallets….

  6. LarrytheG Avatar

    The transition is closer than some folks think:

    By Reuters
    |Nov. 21, 2023

    LONDON (Reuters) – Giant batteries that ensure stable power supply by offsetting intermittent renewable supplies are becoming cheap enough to make developers abandon scores of projects for gas-fired generation world-wide.The long-term economics of gas-fired plants, used in Europe and some parts of the United States primarily to compensate for the intermittent nature of wind and solar power, are changing quickly, according to Reuters’ interviews with more than a dozen power plant developers, project finance bankers, analysts and consultants.

    They said some battery operators are already supplying back-up power to grids at a price competitive with gas power plants, meaning gas will be used less.

    The shift challenges assumptions about long-term gas demand and could mean natural gas has a smaller role in the energy transition than posited by the biggest,

    In the first half of the year, 68 gas power plant projects were put on hold or cancelled globally, according to data provided exclusively to Reuters by U.S.-based non-profit Global Energy Monitor.

    Recent cancellations include electricity plant developer Competitive Power Ventures decision announced in October to abandon a gas plant project in New Jersey in the United States. It cited low power prices and the absence of government subsidies without giving financial detail.

    British independent Carlton Power dropped plans for an 800 million pound ($997 million) gas power plant in Manchester, northern England, in 2016. Reflecting the shift in economics in favour of storage, this year it launched plans to build one of the world’s largest batteries at the site.

    “In the early 1990s, we were running gas plants baseload, now they are shifting to probably 40% of the time and that’s going to drop off to 11%-15% in the next eight to 10 years,” Keith Clarke, chief executive at Carlton Power, told Reuters.

    Without providing price detail, which companies say is commercially sensitive, Clarke said Carlton had struggled to finance the planned gas plant in part because of uncertainty over the revenues it would generate and the number of hours it would run.

    https://www.usnews.com/news/top-news/articles/2023-11-21/giant-batteries-drain-economics-of-gas-power-plants

    1. Thomas Carter Avatar
      Thomas Carter

      7 misperceptions about the viability of utility-scale battery storage – https://www.utilitydive.com/spons/7-misperceptions-about-the-viability-of-utility-scale-battery-storage/630662/

  7. Thomas Carter Avatar
    Thomas Carter

    Many essentially uninsulated century-old buildings – office, apartment, single-family – that rely on gas- or oil-fired boilers or furnaces cannot be effectively heated with heat pumps or other electric alternatives.

    I haven’t been able to determine what the outcome was on this request for proposals in Washington, D.C. – https://dcpsc.org/getattachment/About-PSC/Procurement/Contracting-and-Procurement/Current-Solicitations/Final-RFP-No-PSC-22-06-5-16-(002).pdf.aspx?lang=en-US

    “B.1.1 Project Requirements
    The Commission seeks proposals for community electric heat pump systems capable of serving
    aggregations of buildings. These aggregations may be multifamily residences, single-family
    residences, and/or commercial/institutional buildings. An Offeror may propose community heat
    pump projects for more than one location (See Section E.). If the pilots are replacing existing fossil
    fuel space conditioning systems, the selected offeror will work with Washington Gas and Pepco, as
    necessary, to ensure a smooth and efficient transition from fossil-fuel space conditioning to heat
    pump space conditioning. The heat pump proposal should demonstrate that it will meet the
    outcomes listed below in an innovative manner. During the term of the pilot, the selected offeror
    will manage the operation and maintenance of the heat pump system, and continually monitor
    performance including electricity use by time of day, cost of heating and cooling, and participant
    satisfaction. Although this is a pilot project, the expectation is that the district heat pump will
    continue to operate after the conclusion of the pilot period, as such it should be designed with a
    continuity plan in place.
    The development of a community heat pump system will avoid or replace fossil fuel space
    conditioning systems and will demonstrate the following outcomes: ….”

    1. LesGabriel Avatar
      LesGabriel

      Has anyone else thought of the possibility of storing heat removed from structures during hot months and using it heat those same structures during cold months? This would seem to be most effective in climates with wide swings in temperatures between summer and winter (even between day and night). Heat pumps now pump heat from outside (cold) air into buildings during the winter and pump warm air outside into (hot) air during the summer.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        “heat sinks” – yes…

        but even before that step , geothermal is way more efficient than conventional HVACs but the up-front cost is too much for most even though over the long run, far less costly.

        not dissimilar to putting a metal roof on that lasts near a lifetime rather than replacing the asphalt shingles every 20 years or so and the total accumulated cost is more than the metal roof.

        People no longer expect to live in one house for their lifetime so investing in such things brings no savings.

        1. LesGabriel Avatar
          LesGabriel

          Insulated underground heat storage in my mind is superior to pumping from and into the earth depending on the season. A properly sized heat storage process could result in pumping heat into a 40 degree medium (as opposed to a normal 54 degree ground temperature) during the summer and pumping it out of a 75 degree source in the winter. Think of it as heat recycling, rather than having produce “new” heat every year.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            Yes, don’t disagree. I’m with you on it. BUt, WILL the COST of something like that ultimately be lower? It
            depends a lot on how much the heat sink costs initially.

            that’s why I mentioned geothermal, or metal roofs. Both are less costly than conventional in the long run
            but the upfront costs are horrendous and payback is decades and I’m not sure you recoup it in the sales price if you move.

            Is it in the best interests of society as a whole for the govt to incentivize longer term energy savings with credits?

            I pointed out how water/sewer works. It’ll cost you $10-20 THOUSAND dollars to hook up to water/sewer
            in a lot of places but what they often let you do is pay it back in installments – effectively financing the
            capital cost. I don’t know if new subdivisions pay that cost up front and incorporate it in sales prices or
            the new buyers pay back the hook-up costs in monthly installments.

          2. LesGabriel Avatar
            LesGabriel

            I did a rudimentary simulation in a computer class back in the 70’s using hourly temperature data for the D.C. area. Using today’s computer power and simulation models, high schoolers could easily determine the best configuration for different buildings (single-family or multistory apartments) for a particular climate. If incorporated into new construction, the cost would be amortized over the length of the loan. If retrofitted, the payback period would be estimated at the time of the retrofit. I’m not sure why you refer to this scheme as a “heat sink”. It could be thought of as a heat sink in the summer, but also as a heat source in the winter.

          3. LarrytheG Avatar

            physically – what would it be?

          4. LesGabriel Avatar
            LesGabriel

            Too late tonight to go into detail. Will try tomorrow.

          5. LesGabriel Avatar
            LesGabriel

            It would be a heat pump system, but rather than pumping heat to and from outside air, it would pump to and from a closed heat storage source, perhaps an insulated tank of liquid. salt, or some other material with a high specific heat.

          6. LarrytheG Avatar

            so some material that can absorb great amounts of heat (or cold) without taking up acres of land?

          7. LesGabriel Avatar
            LesGabriel

            Exactly, although it would probably be buried underground to take advantage of the insulating effect of the earth.

          8. LarrytheG Avatar

            are there existing examples?

          9. LesGabriel Avatar
            LesGabriel

            not to my knowledge

          10. LarrytheG Avatar

            It’s sorta like the new grid-scale (or even whole house) batteries or for
            that matter – cracking hydrogen from water. All of them can be done.

            In the end, for most, it comes down to lowest cost.

            People on islands that no native fossil fuels predominantly use the option of
            importing diesel fuel and burning it to produce electricity, at 30 cents plus a killowatt
            hour..

            Those folks will easily gravitate to a lower cost solution if it exists.

            It’s not a small number, there are thousands of inhabited islands with no native fossil fuels.

  8. Randy Huffman Avatar
    Randy Huffman

    I see the Chicago area is in this PJM region, from what I saw in the weather earlier today: -8 this morning, high today of -2, and -13 tonight. I grew up in the area and most homes (though can’t speak about the last 15 years) heat with gas. No other way to effectively do it in this extreme weather.

  9. LarrytheG Avatar

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a1053f8f4d0ecb61b73745e6640b5496c0e761f9862b7b1609662dd237373899.png

    but it takes at least 15 yrs before you start getting ahead on the
    money.

    If the govt would institute a first time geothermal credit, that you paid back… essentially finance the unit for free…and you pay back in installments.

    It’s not that unusual. How much does it cost to hook up to water/sewer these days? MORE than a geothermal but the
    govt lets you pay it off in monthly installments.

    If we did geothermal like we do water/sewer?

  10. walter smith Avatar
    walter smith

    The question is why aren’t we doing nuclear?
    The renewables are a pipe dream. An expensive pipe dream. An unnecessary, expensive pipe dream.

    When John Francois Kerry quits flying private and sources all his electricity from renewables, along with all the other power-crazed Dems, then maybe I’ll believe them. (Poseurs, liars, hypocrites)

  11. Bob X from Texas Avatar
    Bob X from Texas

    It’s racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic and now Hamasphobic to use coal, nuclear, natural gas, or hydro to produce electricity . You will use solar or wind energy or be punished.

    1. energyNOW_Fan Avatar
      energyNOW_Fan

      Furthermore solar and wind are zero cost, and can immediately replace ALL fossil fuels. The only reason this has not been done is criminally unethical bribery. We must teach our children about this terrible crime so they can make the “correct” future decisions.

    2. energyNOW_Fan Avatar
      energyNOW_Fan

      Furthermore solar and wind are zero cost, and can immediately replace ALL fossil fuels. The only reason this has not been done is criminally unethical bribery. We must teach our children about this terrible crime so they can make the “correct” future decisions.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        solar/wind will NEVER replace dispatchable fuels EVER.

        but to say they are not a significant source of low cost grid power is equally ignorant IMO and lucky for us, the utilities focus on that and not culture war foolishness.

        You use them WHEN YOU CAN and when they are cheaper than other fuels.

        Why conservatives have drawn them into culture wars is beyond me.

  12. LarrytheG Avatar

    I have a dual-fuel HVAC also and I have no problem getting electricity made from coal or gas when it’s necessary or burning gas myself to be honest.

    But let me also point out that after 20 yrs, the original HVAC went belly up and the new one is far more efficient and so needs less “fuel” to keep the house warm and if anyone thinks that’s a bad thing…. I dunno.

    We need to continue the gradual transition to using more efficient systems and to incorporate more and more solar/wind
    and use it when it “is” available. Again, why wouldn’t we use wind/solar if it was available and cheaper as long as PJM and providers do maintain reliability?

    It won’t happen overnight, no one expects it to and the timelines for transition may be too ambitious also but we’re not sitting still either and more technology breakthroughs are inevitable as time goes by.

    Solar/wind will never be 24/7 standalone power , no question about it but from I understand we’ve making enormous progress on batteries…big and cheap… so if we do get big and cheap batteries – the “availability” of wind/sun will be 24/7 , sunshine or not!

  13. Not Today Avatar

    Our lights and heat are on because we haven’t had a cold snap (TY, CLIMATE CHANGE, FOR ZONE 8 STATUS) and our power grid is connected to other states, unlike Texas.

  14. William O'Keefe Avatar
    William O’Keefe

    Larry and his naive bunch of dreamers ignore history and cling to the belief that government knows best.
    Technology forcing to meet arbitrary time lines fails and creates more problems than it solves. The world is gradually decarbonizing and can continue to do so without creating unnecessary risks of energy shortages.
    Look to Germany and the UK to see the effects of arbitrary and unrealistic mandates.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Hey BIll, tell me about the Govt and SMRs….

      “Cling” geeze …

      The govt spends money on a wide variety of technologies as well as subsidizes coal, gas, SMRs, large Nukes, you name it.

      We’d not have a single Nuke plant if not for the GOvt.

      that does sound “clingy” , no?

      talk about naive and “dreaming” !!!! 😉

      Those that think the govt is not involved in subsidizing fossil fuels AND NUKES are truly living in LA LA LAND!

      1. William O'Keefe Avatar
        William O’Keefe

        Larry, you make a habit of misinterpreting and distorting what others say. My comment did not pertain to government spending; it pertained to government picking winners and technology forcing on a mandated timeline.
        Get with it or don’t waste everyone’s time.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          Bill. No distortion at all… it’s your own problem. But the primary way that govt picks winners and losers
          is with money for grants and credits and such and to some extent with regulation. In terms of “getting with it”, Dude, that’s on you also because you limit your views entirely to your own biases IMO. Why don’t you discuss
          the issues and not personalize in the first place? Don’t worry about me – stick to the issues or else I’ll just
          perceive your personalization as evading the actual issues.

  15. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    “Your lights and heat are on, and you can thank coal and natural gas.”

    Hopefully, the generators won’t fail this time…

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