What's Keeping the Lights On?

Welcome to Grid Brief’s new weekly installment: “What’s Keeping the Lights On? Wednesdays,” a weekly snapshot of the American power grid’s major markets. At the bottom, you’ll find the Conversation Starters and Crom’s Blessing as usual.

What’s Keeping the Lights On?

On Wednesdays, Grid Brief is now going to focus on weekly snapshots of power generation in America’s major markets. There’s a lot of talk about good and bad days for natural gas or renewables, for example, but rarely a zoomed out look at the markets overall. We want to fix that.

First things first: a map of America’s power markets and a peak at how demand looked across America over the last week.

The Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Texas had the most demand.

Here’s what generation looked like overall:

As we can see, natural gas was the star of the show with coal behind it by a fair margin. Nuclear came in third, nationally.

ISO-New England

New England’s natural gas and hydro generation ramped up over the course of the week as temperatures rose. An artifact in the data between the 27th and 28th makes it look like there was a blackout in the area last week—if there was, we would have covered it.

New York ISO

Natural gas aside, nuclear and hydro kept the Empire State running last week. According to the EIA’s data, solar didn’t show up all week (which could be a logging error), but wind did what it could.


America’s largest power market leaned on natural gas and nuclear last week. Coal’s roll faded as the week went on.


Natural gas, coal, and nuclear played a major role in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s footprint last week. Wind performed well on several days.


The Southwestern Power Pool relied heavily on coal and natural gas with wind leaping up and down until it flatlined yesterday.


Texas had quite the demanding week: its grid operator issued several conservation notices with four straight days of $1 billion+ market costs. August looks to be the most expensive month ERCOT has ever seen. Natural gas was far and away the biggest generator during the heatwave.


Even with California’s monstrous solar output, natural gas stays in the mix. Notice that even during peak output times for solar, natural gas generation never switches off and is still satisfying considerable amount of demand.

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Conversation Starters

  • The Trans Mountain Pipeline may face more delays. “Trans Mountain Corp fears that the expansion of its Canadian oil pipeline may be delayed further unless a regulator allows it to change its route in British Columbia, according to a First Nation that opposes the route adjustment,” reports Reuters. “Cost overruns and delays have dogged efforts to triple the capacity of the government-owned pipeline that runs from Edmonton, Alberta to Burnaby, British Columbia. Costs of construction have more than quadrupled to C$30.9 billion ($22.80 billion). Further delay would limit options to move Canadian oil to refineries in the United States or Asia.”

  • The EU is sticking to its climate guns despite growing pushback. “The European Commission will stand firm on its climate objectives while aiming to ensure that companies and citizens continue to support the transition to net-zero emissions, pledged the new head of the bloc’s landmark green deal,” reports Bloomberg. “‘We are not going to dilute our ambition because it would be like shooting ourselves in the foot,’ Maros Sefcovic, commission executive vice president, told a group of reporters. ‘No one should be left behind.’ Sefcovic took over the responsibilities of Frans Timmermans, who resigned last week to lead the Dutch left alliance in elections in November. Timmermans’s final months in the post were marred by a fierce backlash from center-right groups over the pace of the transition and measures to help restore nature in the region.”

  • European major look to expand deals with Venezuela. “European oil majors Eni and Repsol plan to expand an oil-for-debt deal with Venezuela under U.S. approval, aiming to supply refined products to state firm PDVSA and boost oil deliveries to Europe, three people close to the matter said,” reports Reuters. “As Western sanctions last year cut the flow of Russian oil to Europe, Eni and Repsol received authorization from the U.S. State Department to take Venezuelan crude and process it in European refineries, to recoup accumulated debt and dividends from their joint ventures in the South American country.”

Crom’s Blessing

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