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Old 02-02-2011, 05:27 PM   #13
Scooby Newbie
Member#: 176730
Join Date: Apr 2008
Chapter/Region: TXIC
Location: The Land of Sugar

I know from personal experience in the industry that the alternative providers are significantly cheaper. Most of the people I talked to in Houston (in 2009 when I still worked at an energy brokerage) that were still with Reliant were paying $0.14-$0.16 per kWh, and it was a variable rate that Reliant set every month however they felt. Reliant was the monopoly in Houston prior to deregulation. Meanwhile, most of the other REPs offered fixed rate 6mo or 12mo contracts for $0.07-$0.08 per kWh.

While we are on the subject though, today SUCKS. Because winters here are generally mild, demand usually falls significantly below production capacity so we sell a **** ton of power to all of you people in other states. Well, this bitch of a cold front that blew through spiked demand, but we already sold off the output in the futures market a long time ago. As a result, Gov. Perry and ERCOT have imposed rolling blackouts all across Texas.

Texas imposes rolling blackouts as mercury drops
(Reuters) - The Texas power grid operator on Wednesday imposed rare rolling blackouts as frigid weather swept across the state, leaving nearly 1 million homes temporarily without electricity.

After the cold snap caused 50 generation units with the capacity of 7,000 megawatts to shut down, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the grid operator for the second most populous state behind California, declared an energy emergency.

ERCOT called on state energy suppliers to cut about 4,000 megawatts worth of power demand in the early hours of the day -- equal to 800,000 homes, using ERCOT's estimate of 1 megawatt per 200 houses in extreme temperatures.

The grid operator reduced that call to about 2,000 MW by noon local time as some generation returned to service.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Texas grid officials are working closely with ERCOT and utility providers to restore power.

"Until that happens, I urge businesses and residents to conserve electricity to minimize the impact of this event," Perry said in a statement.

The blackouts left homes dark and without heat for up to an hour, caused some schools and businesses to shut and spurred traffic snarls as some traffic lights stopped working.

"Rolling blackouts in Houston: you would have never thought you would see the day in the energy capital of the world," Jack Moore, chief executive of oilfield services equipment maker Cameron said on a conference call conducted from a division office because its Houston headquarters had no power.

There was no sign of significant outages at Houston's massive "refinery row" complex, which comprises about 13 percent of U.S. refining capacity.

Shell Oil Co said severe winter weather triggered a malfunction in fuel production units at its 329,800 barrel-per-day (bpd) joint-venture refinery in Deer Park, Texas.

Freezing weather shut at least 600 million cubic feet per day of natural gas production in three Texas basins, according to data from Bentek Energy [ID:nN02231787].

"Houston faces rolling blackouts, which should be disruptive to residential users. This is not likely to have any major effect on the oil industry," Mark Routt, oil engineer and consultant at KBC in Houston told Reuters.

Refineries and other critical infrastructure have separate power supply agreements with utilities and are less susceptible to interruptions than residential or commercial customers.

In Houston, the state's most populous city, power supplier CenterPoint Energy, started 45-minute "controlled rolling outages" at about 5:45 a.m. local time, affecting about 330,000 customers on a rotating basis.

"These controlled rolling outages are planned emergency measures designed to avoid potentially longer, and more widespread power outages," CenterPoint official Scott Prochazka said in a statement.

Texas supplier Luminant, a subsidiary of Energy Future Holdings Corp., said an undisclosed amount of its 15,400-megawatt Texas generation fleet shut overnight, and is acting to quickly restore units.

American Electric Power Co and PNM Resources also imposed rolling blackouts on their Texas customers.

Weather-related unit outages caused hourly wholesale power prices in Texas to soar 60-fold to $3,000 per megawatt-hour, up from about $50 where they usually trade. That's comparable to about $3 per kilowatt-hour for residential users, though most Texas home-owners have long-term power deals with suppliers that protect them from short-term price spikes.

Wholesale power for Thursday delivery traded in the $325 range, up from about $70 for Wednesday, as cold weather was expected to persist until Friday.

ERCOT forecast peak demand would top 55,000 megawatts on Wednesday and 57,000 MW on Thursday before dropping to about 47,000 MW on Friday.

That is still well below the grid's 2010 summer peak of 65,715 megawatts.

Power emergencies in Texas are rare -- in February 2008 cold weather coupled with dwindling wind supplies triggered a power emergency that caused ERCOT to cut deliveries to some large industrial customers.

Texas saw rolling blackouts in April 2006 due to soaring heat and high demand for air conditioning.

ERCOT serves about 22 million customers in the Lone Star State, representing 85 percent of its electric load and 75 percent of its land.

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