U.S.: Electricity grid stressed; computer problem mentionedgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
[Entire article posted below, but here are excerpts from near the end that caught my eye:
" ...California Independent System Operator warned that "untenable acts" by generators withholding supplies were resulting in "serious threats" to system reliability... the behavior of generators caused a deterioration in system frequencies on Aug. 2 that put the grid operator within 15 minutes or so of having to order utilities to drop customers. The problem wasn’t a lack of generating capacity but rather that two owners of generating plants refused to comply with orders to boost production. ...a spokesman for Mirant Corp., Atlanta, said his company had "human-error problems and computer problems" on Aug. 2 that made it unable to do what the ISO wanted. ..."for 25 minutes we were in the middle of a system emergency." ...Frequency levels within the four-utility region controlled by the California ISO, dropped to 59.93 hertz from the normal level of 60 hertz. Even minor deviations can cause instability that threatens grid reliability."
And I thought we were reassured, pre-Y2K, that computers weren't required to run the grid???]
Headline: Heat tests Northeast power grid; Prices spike to $1,000 per megawatt hour from $92
Source: Wall Street Journal, 10 August 2001
Aug. 10 — Electric-grid operators struggled to maintain adequate energy supplies throughout the Northeast during the fourth day of record demand caused by heat that neared or topped triple digits.
Worst hit were New York and the mid-Atlantic states, although even New England, which has added 10 generating plants in the past two years, saw reserves plummet enough to declare its first electrical emergency since 1999.
Out in California, which is experiencing seasonable temperatures, the grid operator notified suppliers it was cracking down on generators that refuse to comply with requests to ramp up production when more power is needed. The operator said generators have sometimes balked at their orders since new controls on wholesale prices were imposed in June.
Power prices in New England Thursday spiked briefly to $1,000 per megawatt hour by midafternoon, up from a price of $92 a megawatt hour earlier in the day. Demand topped 25,000 megawatts for the first time ever, making it the third day in a row of record-setting consumption. By 3 p.m. Thursday, PJM Interconnection LLC, operator of the high-voltage transmission system in the mid-Atlantic region, was forced to cut voltage levels by 5% for two hours to stretch available supplies further. Demand hit a new peak of just over 54,200 megawatts, forcing operators to dip into reserve supplies.
Power officials in neighboring New York say they too cut voltages in the eastern part of the state. Steve Sullivan, a spokesman for New York Independent System Operator Inc., said the move freed up around 370 megawatts and allowed it to send some power to help the PJM system make it through the afternoon. The grid operator later interrupted exports of energy to New England because it was needed in New York.
In an effort to conserve energy, governors in New York and New Jersey closed state offices three hours early and told all nonessential employees to hit the beach or hang out in a park — anything but run air conditioning at home. Some county offices on Long Island also closed early.
“Every region is tight,” said Steve Allen, a spokesman for the Northeast Power Coordinating Council, which monitors system reliability for the region.
Meanwhile in the West, the California Independent System Operator warned that “untenable acts” by generators withholding supplies were resulting in “serious threats” to system reliability and urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to investigate. It said that the behavior of generators caused a deterioration in system frequencies on Aug. 2 that put the grid operator within 15 minutes or so of having to order utilities to drop customers. The problem wasn’t a lack of generating capacity but rather that two owners of generating plants refused to comply with orders to boost production.
The California ISO didn’t identify the generators, as is its practice, but a spokesman for Mirant Corp., Atlanta, said his company had “human-error problems and computer problems” on Aug. 2 that made it unable to do what the ISO wanted. Mirant spokesman Patrick Dorinson said “the problems have been fixed.”
Jim McIntosh, director of grid operations for the California ISO, said his operators three times on Aug. 2 ordered two big in-state generators to boost production when morning demand was climbing rapidly. Rebuffed, he said, “for 25 minutes we were in the middle of a system emergency.” The ISO eventually got the energy it needed but it has referred the matter to FERC for possible punitive action.
Frequency levels within the four-utility region controlled by the California ISO, dropped to 59.93 hertz from the normal level of 60 hertz. Even minor deviations can cause instability that threatens grid reliability.
-- Andre Weltman (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 10, 2001