What’s Keeping the Lights On?

Welcome to Grid Brief. Today, we’re taking our weekly look at power generation in America’s electricity markets.

What’s Keeping the Lights On?

Let’s start with a nation-wide snapshot:

Natural gas, nuclear, and coal remained the top three generators. Wind put coal through its paces at certain moments.

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

ISO-New England

Natural gas, nuclear, and hydropower kept New England humming. On the 27th, it looks like generation collapsed, but that is likely a gap in data. A regional amount of power generation loss would have been front page news everywhere.

New York-ISO

New York’s generation profile looks similar to New England’s, a trend we’ve watched unfold over the course of WKTLO. Natural gas, nuclear, and hydro were the top three, with nuclear and hydro swapping places in second and third.


Natural gas, nuclear, and coal were the stars in America’s largest power market. Natural gas ceded its usual first place to nuclear several times.

PJM announced some executive changes this week. Here’s an excerpt from Yahoo! News on the most important elements:

  • Frederick S. "Stu" Bresler is promoted to Executive Vice President – Market Services & Strategy, leveraging Bresler's deep expertise in markets along with his experience developing the company's strategic plan. The promotion is effective Nov. 28.

  • Steven McElwee is promoted to the new role of Vice President and Chief Security Officer, emphasizing the importance and interconnectedness of physical and cybersecurity in PJM's grid operations.

  • PJM will also launch an executive search for the new role of Executive Vice President – Operations, Planning & Security, created to support the expanding complexity of grid operations and planning for a system undergoing significant transition.


Wind had a productive yet volatile week in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s footprint. Yet the old stand-bys were natural gas, coal, and nuclear.


Texas’s generation looked lively this week. Wind had a really strong opening and then disappeared, which brought gas and coal back up. Solar increased its generation over the week, which put it above coal during the day.


Southwest Power Pool’s data arrives truncated yet again. For the day we can see, natural gas, wind, and coal were the major players.


A typical week for California: natural gas with solar peaking up during the day. Notice that gas generation increased over the course of the week.

As Brian Bartholomew implies here, it’s worth noticing that even when solar is at its most productive and pushes prices down, natural gas turbines never stop turning.

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Conversation Starters

  • The White House hits the brakes on ethanol in the Midwest. “The White House is stalling action on requests by Farm Belt states to allow regional sales of gasoline blended with higher volumes of ethanol after oil industry warnings that the move could cause regional supply disruptions and price spikes, according to two sources familiar with the matter,” reports Reuters. “The decision underscores concerns within President Joe Biden's administration over fuel prices, as opinion polls show inflation and the economy as key vulnerabilities for his 2024 re-election bid. In an NBC News poll released on Sunday, just 38% of respondents approved of Biden's handling of the economy.”

  • Michigan goes big on green energy. “Michigan’s governor Gretchen Whitmer signed into law on Tuesday a clean energy package that will have the state carbon-free by 2040,” reports Oilprice.com. “The Clean Energy and Jobs Act has been described by some as requiring Michigan’s utilities to switch 100% of its sales to clean energy sources by 2040. But the Act specifically requires utilities to switch 60% of its electricity generation to renewables. Nuclear power, hydrogen fuel, and natural gas plus carbon capture can make up 40%--a fact that has some climate activists reeling with the notion of allowing fossil fuels in the mix in 2040 and beyond.”

  • A US sanction on tankers may keep India from Russian oil. “A Russian oil tanker sanctioned by Washington is still floating about 1,600 miles from the Indian port where it was due to unload as New Delhi grapples with a dilemma over whether to let the vessel dock,” reports Bloomberg. “The longer it drifts — and the vessel has now been stuck in its current location for about 10 days — the more it underscores the challenge that India faces as it seeks to import cheap Russian crude, and at the same time avoid the risk of damaging ties with the US.”

Crom’s Blessing