Monopoly Area Monday

Welcome to Grid Brief! Today we’re looking at electricity generation in America’s monopoly utility areas.

Monopoly Area Monday

Here’s a nation-wide look at generation to start with:

The big three: natural gas, nuclear, and coal. But wind peaked above coal several times over the week.

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


The Carolinas saw nuclear, natural gas, and coal keep the lights on. However, solar peaked above coal thrice. Notice how natural gas and coal often lump upwards whenever solar drops off.

Despite the Utah Association of Municipal Utility Systems and SMR company NuScale parting ways earlier this month, Duke energy, the major utility in the Carolinas, has remained firm in its commitment to advanced nuclear. Despite their disappointment at what happened with UAMPS, Duke said, “Nuclear is a very important part of our carbon-free future. Our net-zero carbon reduction goals are made possible by extending the life of our existing nuclear fleet and adding next-generation nuclear technologies starting in the mid-2030s. Existing technologies can only get us to about 70% carbon reductions."

Tennessee Valley Authority

Nuclear and natural gas were the heavy hitters for America’s largest public power entity. Hydro and coal swapped third place throughout the week.


The three musketeers of reliability—natural gas, nuclear, and coal—kept the Southeast humming along.


Natural gas remained the biggest power generator in Florida. However, the catch-all category of “other” surged upward on the 21st. Judging by the rest of Florida’s dashboard page of the EIA website, the surge seems to be a major export of power to a neighbor.

On the 17th, Florida Power and Light successfully finished restoring power to thousands of customers who had been blacked out by a storm on November 10th.


Like most of America, the Southwest relies on natural gas, nuclear, and coal to keep the lights on. But solar and wind gave coal a run for its money over the week.

Speaking of coal, the region is set to lose more coal plants and the years roll on. The above mentioned UAMPS deal with NuScale for SMRs to replace aging coal plants was meant to shore up reliability while cleaning up the grid. To read our Grid Brief Premium deep dive into what happened with that deal, click here.


Hydro was the kingpin in the Northwest. But natural gas, coal, and wind did their parts, too. Notice how volatile wind was—dropping low before roaring to the top.

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  • US Military revokes SMR contract. “The U.S. military has rescinded the preliminary award of what could be a nine-figure contract with the company it had tentatively selected to build a small-scale nuclear power plant at Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks. The Department of the Air Force and the Defense Logistics Agency in August announced an ‘intent to award’ the contract to Oklo — a Silicon Valley startup backed by Sam Altman, the leader of the company behind ChatGPT who was ousted and then rehired this month,” reports the Anchorage Daily News. “In late September, the DLA’s energy arm revoked its decision, citing a need for ‘further consideration’ of its obligations under a specific military contracting regulation, according to a memo sent to a competing bidder and obtained by Northern Journal from another source. The regulation says the military should engage in post-bidding negotiations and discussions for contracts worth $100 million or more.”

  • Canadian regulator weighs Trans Mountain Pipeline’s variance request. “The Canada Energy Regulator (CER) has ordered the company building the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion (TMX) to appear at an oral hearing on Monday, as the regulator weighs whether to approve a variance request from the project,” reports Reuters. “Trans Mountain Corp, which is owned by the Canadian government, last month applied for a variance on a section of pipeline between Hope and Chilliwack, British Columbia, after encountering ‘very challenging’ construction conditions due to the hardness of the rock it needs to drill through. The company wants to install a 30-inch-diameter (76 cm) pipe instead of a 36-inch (91 cm) pipe as planned, which would shorten the installation schedule by approximately 55-60 days.”

  • Combined cycle gas turbines have seen notable capacity factor increases since 2008. “The average utilization rate (or capacity factor) for the entire U.S. fleet of combined-cycle natural gas turbine (CCGT) electric power plants has risen as the operating efficiency of new CCGT units has improved,” reports the Energy Information Administration. “The CCGT capacity factor rose from 40% in 2008 to 57% in 2022. Increased efficiency improved the competitiveness of newer CCGT units against other fuel sources and older CCGT units.”

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