Monopoly Area Monday

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

Monopoly Area Monday

Let’s take a look at national generation.

The big three—natural gas, nuclear, and coal—remained on top without any interruptions in reign from wind.

And here’s a map to orient you as we move through the regions.


Nuclear, natural gas, and coal were the main generators in the Carolinas. Natural gas and coal ramped after sunsets when solar dropped off.

Santee Cooper, a South Carolina utility, plans to spend $300 million more in 2024 than it did in 2023 despite lowering fuel costs. Environmental upgrades and various other projects are spurring the 13% increase. Earlier this month, Santee Cooper’s budget, totaling $2.6 billion, won approval.


Nuclear, natural gas, coal, and hydro kept the lights on in America’s largest public utility. Usually, we see hydro drop into the negatives—which suggests exports or pumped storage—but not so much this week.

TVA has recently invested $123 million in reliability upgrades in seven different states to prevent blackouts like those that caught it off guard during last year’s Winter Storm Elliott.


Natural gas, nuclear, and coal kept the Southeast region humming. The generation drop off on the 17th appears to be an EIA data anomaly.

Southern Company, which serves this region, announced its Executive Chairman, Tom Fanning, will retire from the Board of Directors on December 31st of this year after over 43 years.

"I am eternally grateful for my more than four decades of service to Southern Company, customers, communities, and its shareholders and stakeholders," Fanning said. "I have seen first-hand what this company can accomplish, including putting into service the first new nuclear generation unit in our country in a generation, and I am confident our best chapter is still ahead."


Natural gas remained the big dog in the Sunshine State. Solar had a stronger than usual opening to the week, though nuclear and “other” (a category of generators that don’t disclose to the EIA their type for a variety of reasons) held steady in second and third.

Florida is currently getting battered by a storm—Gainesville has, at time of writing, 5000 without power; the Keys also lost power for several hours a few days ago.


Hydro, natural gas, and coal were the big three in the Northwest. This marks the first time in several weeks that wind has not ranked among the top three generators in this region.

The Public Power Council, which represents more than 100 consumer-owned utilities in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming, has come out hard against the Biden administration’s secret deal to close dams along the Snake River.

“Although we have been working with [Bonneville Power Administration] in good faith to develop long-term post-2028 power supply contracts, the massive uncertainty regarding the future of the FCRPS makes it difficult for Northwest public power utilities to commit to long-term… contracts,” the PPC said in a letter to the BPA.


Natural gas, nuclear, and coal were the top generators in the American Southwest.

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Conversation Starters

  • Germany doubles down on solar subsidies. “Germany's Economy Minister Robert Habeck said he aimed to replace a subsidy to makers of solar panels that fell victim to a court ruling last month that scrapped swathes of the budget, arguing support was needed to compete with Chinese manufacturers,” reports Reuters.

    "‘It's important for Germany to have at least a foundation share of its own production,’ Habeck said in an interview with the RND newspaper group, noting the sector's importance for job creation. While solar energy is booming, most of the panels are imported from China.” (For a deep dive into Germany’s stubborn commitment to renewables, check out our recent Grid Brief International for Premium Subscribers.)

  • American drillers rev while OPEC ebbs. “Drillers from the Permian Basin in West Texas to the Bakken Shale of North Dakota have ramped up oil production well beyond what analysts foresaw, pushing output to a record just as OPEC and its allies put the brakes on supplies in a bid to arrest price declines,” reports Bloomberg. “This time last year, US government forecasters predicted domestic production would average 12.5 million barrels a day during the current quarter. In recent days, that estimate was bumped to 13.3 million; the difference is equivalent to adding a new Venezuela to global supplies.”

  • California’s last nuclear power plant wins a life extension. “California's utilities regulator on Thursday granted a five-year extension to operate Pacific Gas and Electric's Diablo Canyon power plant, the state's only nuclear facility, to avoid electricity shortages during extreme weather events,” reports Reuters. “The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved extended operations at the 2,240-megawatts Diablo Canyon plant's two reactor units until 2029 and 2030, from 2024 and 2025, respectively. PG&E can now keep Diablo Canyon running while it awaits a renewed federal operating license, and it must also keep the terms of its $1.4 billion loan agreement with California, the CPUC said in its decision.”

Crom’s Blessing

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