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The Outage at the Federal Reserve

The outage of the National Settlement Service and the Fedwire Securities Service, which provides issuance, settlement, and transfer services for Treasuries and other government securities, was down and this has caused some concern and then conspiracy theories mixed in. The Fed made progress reversing the shutdown within a couple of hours, however, this has illustrated that a long-term outage of the Fed’s online services could cause intense chaos across the world financial system, preventing banks and businesses from finalizing transactions and impeding basic banking functions.

The Federal Reserve said an outage of its key financial services on Wednesday was caused by a maintenance mistake and it is taking steps to prevent a recurrence. The official statement read:

“The incident was caused by an operational error involving an automated data center maintenance process that was inadvertently triggered during business hours,” a Fed spokeswoman said. Such tasks are normally performed after-hours, she said, adding, “This was human error.”

“Our technical teams have determined that the cause is a Federal Reserve operational error,” the Fed said on Wednesday on its website. “The Federal Reserve Banks have taken steps to help ensure the resilience of the Fedwire and NSS applications, including recovery to the point of failure.”

There was no power-outage so it does appear that the Federal Reserve was honestly calling it a disruption due to an ‘operational error’. This raises the issue of concern surrounding digital currency. Indeed, solar flares and other solarmass ejections that travel through space can overwhelm Earth’s atmosphere and generate powerful electric and magnetic fields. These magnetic storms can occasionally be intense enough to disrupt the operation of high-voltage electricity lines. A digital currency system could be brought to its knees with an EM attack.

(see report)

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Who’s To Blame For The Texas Power Crisis?

Who’s To Blame For The Texas Power Crisis?

Our last report focused on the uniqueness of the Texas wholesale electricity market, ERCOT, and how it was specifically designed to evade federal utility regulation. And as if he were our paid spokesperson, former Texas governor Rick Perry stated publicly that Texans were happy to suffer blackouts and other hardships if it meant evading federal regulatory scrutiny. Whether the good (and shivering) citizens of the Lone Star State agree is another matter. But today, instead of dealing with politics, we’ll take a closer look at ERCOT as a state planning agency.

First the good news. One of the hardest parts of every planning agency’s job is correctly estimating future demand. This is doubly hard in a dynamic, fast growing economy like Texas. Consequently we were surprised at how good their planning estimate was for this winter’s electrical load of about 67,000 megawatts. Because of the blackouts we can’t precisely know what peak electrical demand in Texas would’ve been given the extreme winter demands from home heating and the like. But the shadow estimates published by ERCOT suggested about 72,000 megawatts of peak demand.

In total, ERCOT has the ability to supply electrical capacity of about 80,000 megawatts. This amount of available electric power generation should have been adequate to meet demand this week. Not by a wide margin but adequate. Barely. As an aside we should point out that ERCOT runs “light” in terms of electric system reserve capacity with reserves typically about 8%. This compares with other US grids where targeted reserve margins are about 15%. Lower reserve margins are cheaper but mean less back up for emergencies.

Our first tentative conclusion is that Texas would have withstood this recent snowstorm and polar vortex event in pretty good shape from a grid perspective IF thermal plants were available to meet skyrocketing demand.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Is Texas Facing A Humanitarian Crisis?

Is Texas Facing A Humanitarian Crisis?

Up to 15 million Texans remain without heat and electricity as temperatures across the state are well below freezing. Another round of winter weather is battering parts of the state Wednesday morning, as many Texans have been without electricity since Sunday are desperately scrambling to find shelters. Weather-related deaths have already been reported as one of the nation’s wealthiest states can barely supply electricity to its residents. And some of those residents have written to us to share their painful realities…

…my house is now resembling a refugee camp. yeah these are all my friends but crazy cause they all have young kids

hence i’m escaping the chaos…

what’s insane is that big swathes of population in surrounding areas are without power and *water supply*

… bottled water flying off shelves & stores bout to run out.

… so much for Green New Deal shit… all our turbines and solar don’t work now in freeze, LOL

i live in an area behind a major hospital so i’m thinking that’s why my grid has been up and running this whole time. 

The unprecedented polar vortex split, dumping Arctic air down to the Gulf of Mexico, resulted in frozen wellheads that impeded the flow of natgas to power stations, triggering electric shortages as demand overwhelmed the grid. Considering ERCOT, which manages 90% of the state’s electric load, has a high percentage of electrical generation produced via natgas, power has yet to be restored to millions of folks.

The cascading effect of blackouts and controlled power outages has resulted in some critical infrastructure such as cellular networks and water treatment plants going offline.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

‘Grid Chaos’ Sparks Massive Rolling Blackouts Across Texas 

‘Grid Chaos’ Sparks Massive Rolling Blackouts Across Texas 

Rolling power outages are in effect across the state of Texas as the polar vortex split has poured some of the coldest air ever into the central US. There are nearly 2 million Texan customers without power as of Monday morning.

Texas power grid operator ERCOT warned Sunday of an “energy emergency” and threatened “rotating outages.” By Monday morning (0125 local time), ERCOT began “rotating outages” to “reduce demand on the electric system.” It continued: “Traffic lights and other infrastructure may be temporary without power.”

As of 0700 ET, PowerOutage.US shows 1.834 million customers are without power across the state amid frigid temperatures.

ERCOT officials said outages are expected to last between 15 and 45 minutes. They say blackouts are “necessary to maintain the system’s reliability.” Power demand is expected to remain at record levels through Tuesday as record-low temperatures will stay in the region through the week.

“Every grid operator and every electric company is fighting to restore power right now,” said Bill Magness President and Chief Executive Officer of ERCOT. 

Temperatures across Texas and the central US are expected to be well below normal through the end of the week.

ERCOT’s decision to implement rolling power outages comes after we first warned of an imminent grid crisis on Thursday, when we reported that natgas prices across the plains states had soared to never before seen levels as a result of a brutal polar vortex blast.

… which cut off natgas supply amid wellhead freeze-offs, cutting production receipts just when customers’ demand for heating most needed them. By Friday, frigid temperatures caused equipment failures, temporarily shutdowns in at least four natgas plants.

Over the last 24 hours, hundreds of daily records for cold temperatures were broken as Arctic air pushed all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

“Energy Emergency” – Texas Power Provider Warns Of Rotating Outages As Cold Weather Tests Limits Of Grid

“Energy Emergency” – Texas Power Provider Warns Of Rotating Outages As Cold Weather Tests Limits Of Grid

With the situation in Texas doing from bad to worse:

Weather forecast models suggest the polar vortex will continue pouring Arctic air into much of the central US through Feb. 20. This means nat gas prices could rise even higher early next week as electricity demand continues to soar over the weekend as Americans crank up their thermostats and watch Netflix shows or mine Bitcoin.

Texas power grid operator ERCOT, has issued a statement warning of an “energy emergency” and threatening “rotating outages” just when residents need the power to heat their homes the most:

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is asking consumers and businesses to reduce their electricity use as much as possible Sunday, Feb. 14 through Tuesday, Feb. 16.

“We are experiencing record-breaking electric demand due to the extreme cold temperatures that have gripped Texas,” said ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness.

“At the same time, we are dealing with higher-than-normal generation outages due to frozen wind turbines and limited natural gas supplies available to generating units. We are asking Texans to take some simple, safe steps to lower their energy use during this time.”

Here are some tips to reduce electricity use:

  • Turn down thermostats to 68-degrees.
  • Close shades and blinds to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows.
  • Turn off and unplug non-essential lights and appliances.
  • Avoid using large appliances (i.e., ovens, washing machines, etc.).
  • Businesses should minimize the use of electric lighting and electricity-consuming equipment as much as possible.
  • Large consumers of electricity should consider shutting down or reducing non-essential production processes.
  • Given the prolonged, below-freezing temperatures, conservation measures should be implemented safely and within reason.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Britain’s National Grid forecasts tight electricity margins for Wednesday

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s National Grid, which is responsible for ensuring supply and demand are balanced in Britain’s energy systems, has issued a tight electricity margin notice for Wednesday afternoon and evening.

In a market message, National Grid said there is a reduced margin between the hours of 1600-1900 GMT on Wednesday, with a system shortfall of 584 megawatts.

“An electricity margin notice is used to send a signal to the electricity market. It highlights that, in the short-term, we would like a greater safety cushion (margin) between power demand and available supply,” National Grid said.

“It does not signal that blackouts are imminent or that there is not enough generation to meet current demand.”

A further update will be issued tomorrow.

EU can shut off power supplies if UK tries to seize control of fish stocks, small print of deal reveals

EU can shut off power supplies if UK tries to seize control of fish stocks, small print of deal reveals

Cables under Channel meet 8 per cent of demand – raising threat of higher prices and possible blackouts.

The EU has secured the ability to shut off gas and electricity supplies if the UK tries to seize control of disputed fish stocks in future, experts are warning.

The sanction – which would hike prices and possibly trigger blackouts – makes a mockery of the prime minister’s claim to have “taken control” of British waters in his trade agreement, they say.

The little-noticed clause in the vast 1,255-page text allows Brussels to kick the UK out of its electricity and gas markets in June 2026, unless a fresh deal is agreed.

The date set is – deliberately – the same as for the review of fishing rights, when Mr Johnson has insisted the UK will finally grab a large share of stocks, having failed to do that in his agreement.

The Institute for Government said Brussels had been determined to secure a connection “between energy and fish” in the negotiations that finally concluded on Christmas Eve.

“It seems that, in the weeds of the deal, they’ve succeeded,” Maddy Thimont Jack, the IfG’s associate director, told The Independent:

“By including annual negotiations on energy from 2026, it would be very easy to leverage access to the EU’s energy market in the annual talks on fish – also starting in 2026.

“This is just another reason why the UK will likely struggle to take back control of any more of its waters in the years to come.”

Losing power supplies could have a significant impact on the UK, which brings in about 8 per cent of its demand through huge power cables under the Channel.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

California Begins Cutting Power To 361,000 Customers As Fire Risk Surges

Facing bone-crushing dryness and the strongest winds of the wildfire season, California’s largest utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) which filed for historic bankruptcy due to its role in previous infernos sweeping across the state has “de-energized certain electrical lines” in Northern California, which may result in what could be the largest mass blackout of the year.

PG&E released a statement Sunday morning, informing customers that 361,000 homes and or businesses were part of the blackout, affecting 36 counties, mainly in Northern California, starting at 10:00 PST. Listed below are the counties affected by the planned blackouts:

PG&E’s initial projection of homes and businesses that would lose power on Sunday is down 105k from Friday’s 466k estimate. The power company’s primary reason to de-energize some of its power lines is that high winds are expected on Sunday, increasing the risk for trees and or limbs to fly into powerlines and potentially ignite fires in regions of low humidity and dry vegetation.

“This event looks particularly dangerous due to a combination of factors that we continue to track,” said Scott Strenfel, PG&E’s head of meteorology and fire science, who was quoted by Bloomberg. Strong winds and low humidity were expected throughout the day on Sunday, he said.

The next round of blackouts, expected imminently, will be a devastating blow for the state, already battered by extreme weather this fire season, scorching more than 4 million acres so far. PG&E has preemptively cut power four times this season.

High wind gusts are expected for some regions in Northern California through Monday, tweeted The National Weather Service (NWS) Sacramento.

NWS Sacramento outlines a “dangerous” fire risk for Northern California through Sunday.

“Dangerous Critical to Extremely Critical fire weather conditions are expected across portions of northern California today, as strong offshore winds occur over critically dry fuels. Strongest winds are expected tonight into early Monday morning.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

UK Grid Warns Of Electricity Shortage Due To Drop In Wind

The UK’s electricity grid operator has warned of a short supply over the next few days due to generator outages and a lull in autumn winds.

The National Grid said on Oct. 14 that it was exploring various measures to create a buffer to avoid potential outages, like the one last summer that left 1 million homes without power.

“We’re forecasting tight margins on the electricity system over the next few days owing to a number of factors including weather, import and export levels and availability of generators over periods of the day with higher demand,” the National Grid said in a statement.

“Unusually low wind output coinciding with a number of generator outages means the cushion of spare capacity we operate the system with has been reduced.”

Power outages in the UK are rare. The last blackout was over a year ago and lasted for only one hour.

In an update on Oct. 15, the National Grid said that margins are currently “adequate” and it will continue to monitor the situation through the weekend.

According to the National Grid, last month one-fifth of the power supply came from wind, “in spite of unusually calm British weather during the middle of September.”

The latest announcement may fan concerns about over-reliance on wind power, which critics say is unreliable compared to gas or nuclear power.

Growth in Renewable Energy

Renewable energy has been a rapidly growing source of electricity in the UK. According to government data, 47 percent of UK electricity generation came from renewables in the first quarter of 2020, compared to 36 percent from the same time in the previous year.

A maintenance boat works next to the turbines of the new Burbo Bank offshore wind farm in the mouth of the River Mersey on May 12, 2008, in Liverpool, England. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Rolling blackouts in California show how reliance on solar and wind power can backfire

Image: Rolling blackouts in California show how reliance on solar and wind power can backfire
(Natural News) California issued its first rolling blackouts in nearly 20 years last week as the state’s grid operator tried to keep the power system from complete collapse in the midst of a heat wave, and some are pointing out that the situation demonstrates the failures of green energy.

The rolling blackouts affected upwards of 2 million Californians. Many of the outages took place in the afternoon, when power demand peaked as people starting turning up their air conditioning at the same time that solar power supplies started slowing down as the sun set.

The state’s three biggest utilities – Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, and San Diego Gas & Electric – cut off power to homes and businesses for roughly an hour at a time until the close of an emergency declaration, and this was followed by a second outage.

On top of that, erratic output from the state’s wind farms failed to make up the gap. Around a third of the state’s electricity comes from renewable sources thanks to state law mandates, and these alternatives proved incapable of keeping up during peak power usage. In the past, utilities and grid operators in the state bought extra electricity from other states when it fell short, but the vast size of the heat wave meant that other states were also reaching their limits and had none to spare.

Governor Gavin Newsom ordered an investigation into the outages seen in the state over the weekend, vowing to uncover the cause. However, Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson of Fresno, who serves as the Committee on Utilities and Energy’s Vice Chair, said that the problem can be traced to California’s reduced dependence on natural gas.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Building a national super grid in America

Building a national super grid in America

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is national-grid.jpg

Preface. Renewables are not evenly distributed.  Just 10 states have 80% of hydropower (Homeland Security 2011), 10 states produce 75% of wind power (EIA 2017), and 10 states produce 79% of solar power (CE 2020).

With a national grid, instead of having to curtail power so the grid isn’t overwhelmed, the power could be sent places needing electricity, especially entire South East, which has very little commercial-scale wind year round (Friedemann 2015).

But there is no national grid in sight (St John 2020) for many reasons listed below — the extremely high cost, the chance that this would actually make the grid more unstable and lead to a national blackout, NIMBYism at every level, and bureaucracies.

***

A national supergrid is seen as essential for integrating renewable power into the electric grid, since many regions of the US have limited renewable power options and a very large grid is needed to keep it in balance, since the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining everywhere at once, nor do vast regions have hydropower, geothermal, and other renewable power at all.

Just as many natural gas and oil deposits are stranded and unexploited because the cost to build pipelines to them is too high, many renewable resources are unable to generate enough power to justify building transmission lines to them, or they’re too far from cities.

If America tried to balance intermittent power over a wide area like Denmark and construct a national grid, there is the potential for a national blackout.

Although large regions can increase stability, this isn’t always true, since operators can’t see adjoining systems well enough to detect impending extreme events and take countermeasures quickly (CEC).

Size doesn’t always increase reliability because it provides multiple paths for local disturbances to propagate, which can lead to complex chains of cascading failures (Morgan).

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

A nationwide blackout lasting 1 year could kill up to 90% Americans

A nationwide blackout lasting 1 year could kill up to 90% Americans

Preface. What follows is the testimony of Dr. Pry at a 2015 U.S. House of Representatives session. I have cut, shortened, and rearranged the order of the 30 page original document.  And hey, the truth is, the electric grid is coming down one way or another.  Without natural gas, wind and solar can’t be balanced (no energy storage is in sight), and the electric grid is falling apart.

Related articles:

***

Testimony of Dr. Peter Vincent Pry  at the U.S. House of Representatives Serial No. 114-42 on May 13, 2015. The EMP Threat:  the state of preparedness against the threat of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) event.  House of Representatives. 94 pages.

“The EMP Commission estimates that a nationwide blackout lasting one year could kill up to 9 of 10 Americans through starvation, disease, and societal collapse”  

A natural electromagnetic pulse (EMP) from a geomagnetic super-storm, like the 1859 Carrington Event or 1921 Railroad Storm, or nuclear EMP attack could cause a year-long blackout, and collapse all the other critical infrastructures–communications, transportation, banking and finance, food and water–necessary to sustain modern society and the lives of 310 million Americans.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“It’s Not Sustainable:” PG&E Rolling Blackouts To Hit 181,000 Customers Wednesday

“It’s Not Sustainable:” PG&E Rolling Blackouts To Hit 181,000 Customers Wednesday 

Seriously, every time the wind blows in California, it transforms into a third world country with rolling blackouts. And if you’ve ever been to let’s say South America where this happens frequently, it’s not a pleasant thing to experience. 

So Californians will get another taste of what it’s like to live in Venezuela or Argentina on Wednesday. Nearly 181,00 customers in Northern California on early Wednesday will see their power cutoff so that Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) can avoid sparking another deadly wildfire. 

The National Weather Service (NWS) posted “red flag warnings” for parts of the Bay Area, Sacramento, Paradise, and even up to Redding. 

Ford Unveils the Mustang Mach-E

Northly winds are expected to be in the 40-55 mph range, with some gusts over 55 mph, which could damage electric lines and spark wildfires, one of the main reasons why PG&E wants to cut power. 

PG&E published a community resource map of certain facilities that residents can use for WiFi, bathrooms, and food during the rolling blackout. 

PG&E has conducted several rolling blackouts since Sept., which at one point left millions of residents in the dark for days while the electric company shutdown large transmission lines to avoid electrical fires during a windstorm. 

The bankrupted utility company has been extra careful about preventing blazes during windstorms since deadly fires in Northern California in 2017 and 2018 are expected to cost $30 billion. 

“We all know it’s not sustainable — it’s not where we want to be,” Andy Vesey, PG&E’s chief of utility operations, said Tuesday. But at this point in time, it’s the situation that we are faced with.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Dangerous Storms Spoil Halloween, Leave Half A Million Without Power Across Northeast

Dangerous Storms Spoil Halloween, Leave Half A Million Without Power Across Northeast 

A powerful storm swept through the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast overnight in a spooky fashion, producing 50 mph gusts, damaged powerlines, and has left more than a half-million customers without power on Friday morning.

Approximately 613,00 customers, with the bulk of the power outages in New York (216,00), Pennsylvania (202,00), Connecticut (84,000), Virginia (63,000), and Maine (48,000) were left without power after severe thunderstorms produced damaging winds and torrential rainfall across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast on Thursday night, the National Weather Service (NWS) reported. 

Residents in the Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area were placed under a tornado watch on Halloween evening through midnight. There were no reports of any tornadic activity, though powerful winds up to 50 mph knocked out power to 20,000 customers as of 5:30 am est. Friday. 

Tornado advisories were also published for parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and North Carolina.

Bloomberg notes that winds up to 79 mph were recorded in Mount Mansfield, Vermont, as the storm swept through late Thursday night, canceling plans for many who were attempting to trick or treat.

According to NWS Weather Prediction Center College Park MD, the dangerous storm that swept through overnight will give way to “cold high pressure over the Lower Mississippi Valley/Tennessee Valley will move into the Mid-Atlantic by Friday evening.” 

As November begins, many are wondering what Old Man Winter has in store for North America. Weather reports from Reuters’ commodity desk suggest a “cold season” for many parts of Central and Northeast US.

“The North America winter outlook suggests a cold season across the central/northern US. If this scenario develops, it would point toward elevated winterkill risks for winter wheat, though deeper snow cover than normal could offset the risks.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Thinking Outside the Grid

Thinking Outside the Grid

Gorelick comments: “About 10 years ago I wrote something for our local food coop’s newsletter, and it touches on our home energy use. Even though IBM is no longer running “smarter planet” ads and LED lights have superceded CFLs, everything else in it still feels current.” Yes, this subject is very current, especially to Californians, who are now facing a future of frequent electrical blackouts.

Twenty years ago, a friend of mine published a book called 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save The Earth. It described the huge environmental benefits that would result if everyone made some simple adjustments to their way of life. Six hundred thousand gallons of gas could be saved every day, for example, if every commuter car carried just one more passenger; over 500,000 trees could be saved weekly if we all recycled our Sunday newspaper; and so forth. The book was immensely popular at the time, at least partly because it was comforting to know we could “save the Earth” so easily.

Just recycle!

Unfortunately, the projected benefits of these simple steps were actually insignificant compared to the scale of the problems they addressed. Saving 600,000 gallons of gasoline sounds impressive, but it’s only about 1/1,000 of daily fuel consumption in this country. Half a million trees every week sounds like a lot too, but the sad fact is that about 1.5 acres of forest are being lost every second, despite all the Sunday papers that are now routinely recycled.

50 Simple Things is no longer in vogue (you can buy a copy online for 1 cent), but its core assumption – that our most urgent crises can be solved by tinkering around the edges of modern life – is as popular as ever.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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