Monopoly Area Monday

Welcome to Grid Brief! Today, we’re looking at power generation in America’s traditional monopoly areas with relevant news items.

Monopoly Area Monday

Here’s a snapshot of generation nation-wide:

Natural gas and nuclear were the top two generators in the country with wind and coal grappling for third.

And here’s a map to orient you as we move through the areas:


Nuclear and natural gas held first and second spots, respectively, while coal took third despite a few interruptions from solar.

South Carolina is considering swapping a coal plant for a gas generation facility. “Dominion Energy and state-owned Santee Cooper propose the Canadys plant as a pivotal part of their ‘reliable, affordable and increasingly clean energy’ portfolio as the utilities attempt to wind down burning coal,” reports Inside Climate News. “Canadys was closed in 2013, and South Carolina’s use of coal power has more than halved since then. Four plants still operate but, by 2030, only one will remain open, according to Dominion and Santee Cooper, also known as the South Carolina Public Service Authority. As yet, there are no plans to close the fourth and largest coal plant operated by Santee Cooper. But both utilities, for months, have been wrangling over how best to provide future reliable energy for their nearly 3 million in-state customers.”


Nuclear held the number one position in the TVA. The second and third spots were a scrum between hydro, natural gas, and coal.

The TVA is launching a STEM initiative to shore up its engineering staff crisis. “Amidst the expansion of their partnership into a STEM facility at Northaven Elementary School this February, the collaboration entails the establishment of more than two dozen centers across TVA’s seven-state region,” reports WREG. “Each center is outfitted with essential educational resources including Chromebooks, a Tech Tub for secure computer storage, a 3D printer, and a variety of STEM learning materials. Furthermore, students will benefit from a specially crafted curriculum aligned with Next Generation Science Standards, along with access to a mobile workbench, elemental clover tables, and stackable chairs. Additionally, students can engage in the annual STEM Challenge, a national competition organized by the Ripken Foundation.”


Natural gas, nuclear, and coal were the Southeast’s most prolific generators.

Southern Company firmed up the software supply chains at one of its substations to improve cybersecurity. “Energy giant Southern Company in the past year set out to inventory all of the hardware, software, and firmware in equipment running in one of its Mississippi substations in an effort to create a software bill of materials (SBOM) for the operational technology (OT) site,” reports Dark Reading. “The SBOM experiment began with Southern Company's cybersecurity team traveling to the Mississippi Power substation to physically catalog the equipment there, taking photos and gathering data from network sensors. Then came the most daunting — and at times, frustrating — part: acquiring software supply chain details from the 17 vendors whose 38 devices the utility identified in the substation during its reconnaissance mission.”


Natural gas, nuclear, and solar kept the Sunshine State humming.


Hydro, natural gas, wind, and coal all spent time in the Northwest’s top three.

Drought sapped America’s western hydropower fleet last year. “Drought and low snowpack in much of the West made it a bad year for the climate-friendly energy source, especially in Washington state, the nation’s leading producer of power from flowing water,” reports KUOW. “Washington hydropower fell 23% in ‘water year 2023’— the 12-month period from October 2022 to September 2023. In Oregon, the next-biggest hydro producer, it fell 22%. The two Northwest states saw their dams’ power output fall 10% below the previous 20-year low, set two years earlier.”


Natural gas and nuclear were the top generators in the Southwest with a scrap between several others for third place. Petroleum and “other” had spikes of generation to cover what seem to be jumps in demand at mid-week.

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Conversation Starters

  • European firms ask FERC to deny US LNG exporter’s construction permit extension. “Top European energy companies on Friday asked U.S. regulators to reject Venture Global LNG's request for a one-year construction permit extension to its Louisiana export plant. Shell PLC, Italian utility Edison, Repsol, Orlen SA, and Galp Energia SA oppose the request because they believe Venture Global LNG has completed its plant but has failed to give them contracted cargoes,” reports Reuters. “Venture Global last month asked for a one-year extension to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) permit to complete its Calcasieu Pass plant, or to receive assurances it did not need an extension.”

  • Aramco bets on China’s demand growing. “Saudi Aramco Chief Executive Amin Nasser said on Sunday the oil giant was looking at further opportunities to invest in China, where he said oil demand was robust and growing. State-owned Aramco has been ramping up its China presence in a string of deals in refining and petrochemicals, some of them with crude offtake agreements attached,” reports Reuters. "‘So far we are in the early part of 2024, demand is healthy and growing in China,’ Nasser said on a media call following the release of results that showed net profit falling 24.7% to $121.3 billion on lower oil prices. Nasser said the country's refineries were some of the most fully integrated and had the highest conversion rates and Aramco was currently looking at further opportunities for investment. Nasser expected the global oil market to remain healthy throughout 2024.”

  • Tighter sanctions of Russia leave South Korean shipbuilder in the lurch. “Ever-tighter sanctions against Moscow have left a South Korean shipbuilder struggling to find buyers for specialized vessels intended to serve Russia’s newest liquefied natural gas facility, threatening to delay exports from the Arctic project,” reports Bloomberg. “Russia’s Sovcomflot PJSC had ordered the vessels, specifically tailored for use at Novatek PJSC-led Arctic LNG 2 export plant above the Arctic circle, in 2020, but the contract was terminated after the invasion of Ukraine, and ownership reverted to the shipbuilder.”

Crom’s Blessing

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