Texas governor calls for incentivizing nuclear, gas, coal for grid reliability

July 8, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News
Map of ERCOT over the state of Texas (Image: ERCOT)

Motivated by February’s Texas grid debacle and last month’s Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) alert pleading with residents to conserve energy, Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this week issued a letter to members of the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC), directing them to take immediate action to improve electric reliability across the state. According to the governor’s office, the directives build on reforms passed in the 87th legislative session to increase power generation capacity and ensure the reliability of the Texas power grid.

Meredith Angwin: The electric grid and reliability

June 14, 2021, 1:25PMNuclear NewsRick Michal

In her career as a chemist, Meredith Angwin headed projects that lowered pollution and increased reliability on the electric grid. Her work included pollution control for nitrogen oxides in gas-­fired combustion turbines and corrosion control in geothermal and nuclear systems.

Angwin, an ANS member, was one of the first women to be a project manager at the Electric Power Research Institute, leading projects in nuclear energy and renewables.

In the past decade, Angwin began to study and take part in grid oversight and governance. For four years, she served on the Coordinating Committee for the Consumer Liaison Group associated with ISO New England, her local grid operator. It was during this time that she realized what a maze of confusion surrounded grid rules and grid management.

U.S. nuclear capacity factors: Reliable and looking for respect

May 28, 2021, 2:58PMNuclear NewsSusan Gallier
Fig. 1. All reactors. The median DER net capacity factor of the 96 reactors included in this survey for the three-year period 2018–2020 is 91.33 percent. For the five three-year periods between 1997 and 2011 shown above, 104 reactors were in operation. The 2012–2014 capacity factor includes 100 reactors, and 2015–2017 includes 99 reactors.

Capacity factor is a measure of reliability, and reliability delivers results. The U.S. nuclear power fleet produced about 789.9 TWh of clean electricity in 2020 and ended the year with 94 operating reactors. According to Energy Information Administration data, that’s about 37 percent more electricity than the 576.9 TWh produced in 1990 by a much larger fleet of 112 reactors.

Nuclear News has tracked and analyzed the capacity factors of the U.S. fleet since the early 1980s, before concerted industry efforts yielded unforeseen performance improvements. High nuclear capacity factors are now less an achievement than an expectation. So much so, in fact, that advanced reactors in development today are assumed to be capable of achieving capacity factors above 90 or even 95 percent.

The U.S. fleet has maintained a median capacity factor near 90 percent for 20 years (see Fig. 1), and the median design electrical rating (DER) net capacity factor for 2018–2020, at 91.33, does not disappoint—unless by showing virtually no change relative to the median of 91.34 recorded in 2015–2017. However, this lack of meaningful difference only underscores the consistent reliability of the U.S. fleet.

Energy Secretary calls for changes to Texas grid

March 4, 2021, 11:58AMANS Nuclear Cafe


Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Wednesday during the CERAWeek energy conference commented that Texas should look beyond its borders to join other grids following last month's winter storm that left millions without power, according to an article from The Hill.

“It would be great for Texas to consider connecting ... to its neighbors,” she said. “I understand the go-it-alone sort of ethos, but there’s also an ethos of helping your neighbor too and I think connecting could benefit Texas in times of emergency, but it could also benefit Texas and the rest of the country in good times when Texas is generating all sorts of clean energy."

The week in Texas

February 19, 2021, 11:55AMNuclear News

Maybe everything really is bigger in Texas, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. The brutal winter storm that hit much of the country earlier this week struck the Lone Star State with particular severity, leaving the power grid in shambles and millions of Texas residents without power, in many instances for days. On Tuesday, at the height of the power crisis, more than 4.4 million utility customers were without access to electricity, according to poweroutage.us.