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      09-12-2019, 07:55 PM   #45
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Originally Posted by cjb762 View Post
I'm not saying you or your buddy are wrong - or even that banning NG right now is a good thing - but if the estimates on the Washington Gas website is to be believed, the cost of electric heat doesn't seem THAT much higher than gas heat - less than $300 per year (<$25 per month). I mean, it's not nothing, and there are many people who it would be a lot for, but it doesn't seem like it would be enough to stop a development.

https://www.washingtongas.com/home-o...s/cost-savings

I think electric is generally cheaper to install as well.
Depends on where you are and the local weather, electric and nat gas costs. Heat pumps are efficient but not great in extreme temps (require strip heat in cold, for example), so not suitable for all climates. I wouldnít want electric anything in CA or NYC or many other places where the rates are more than double what they are in my state (which not coincidentally is able to attract large, energy-intensive manufacturing). It is much more complex, and local, than it seems at first blush.

Electric is great in TN (TVA) and anywhere that nat gas isnít available (pipes are expensive to lay in rocky terrain) or propane is the option (it is priced more like gasoline than nat gas), but elsewhere nat gas is the preferred fuel. And Iím in the electric business.

And, heís not my buddy. A professional colleague who often sits across the table from me. We agree, disagree, and do business. Never socialize.
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      09-12-2019, 08:11 PM   #46
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Originally Posted by 2000cs View Post
Depends on where you are and the local weather, electric and nat gas costs. Heat pumps are efficient but not great in extreme temps (require strip heat in cold, for example), so not suitable for all climates. I wouldnít want electric anything in CA or NYC or many other places where the rates are more than double what they are in my state (which not coincidentally is able to attract large, energy-intensive manufacturing). It is much more complex, and local, than it seems at first blush.

Electric is great in TN (TVA) and anywhere that nat gas isnít available (pipes are expensive to lay in rocky terrain) or propane is the option (it is priced more like gasoline than nat gas), but elsewhere nat gas is the preferred fuel. And Iím in the electric business.

And, heís not my buddy. A professional colleague who often sits across the table from me. We agree, disagree, and do business. Never socialize.
Thanks for a thoughtful response. (Except that part about your buddy. Not sure what that was all about...)
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      09-12-2019, 08:19 PM   #47
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Since we’re on the subject, let’s compare electric energy sources:

Coal: High BTU content, most CO2 per MWh of energy generation (approx 1 ton per MWh). Highly reliable because large quatities (weeks-months) can be stored on-site at an electric generating facility. Stable prices because cost to mine, ship etc is stable. Huge supply domestically (USA) likely over 2 centuries. Met Coal is mined separately and used in steel manufacturing (Coke), thermal coal is used for electric. Available from several mines, transportable via rail, truck, barge. Not lowest cost today. Current EPA rules effectively prohibit any new coal-fired generation from being built. Also experiencing pressure from lenders and insurance companies who are beginning to refuse service to coal operators, mines, etc.

Nat gas: lowest cost today in combined cycle plants, used in peakers as well. Produces 1/2 CO2 emissions per MWh as Coal. Expensive to store locally and storage is of limited quantity (burn time). Preference in winter to heat (residential) so subject to curtailment for industry and electric production. Prices can be volatile because of high demand variability and relative stable supply (pipeline constraints). Fracking has opened up large resources with attendant environmental concerns, need for more pipeline (gathering, midstream), which is subject to many permitting challenges. New CC plant cost approx 1/2 cost of same-size coal, perhaps less (coal now unknown).

Nuclear: TMI then Fukushima have kept fears at a high level, but a very safe and reliable source of electricity. No CO2 emissions, highly reliable, fuel on-site so very available (like coal). Incredibly expensive to build (bet the company large, 2-8x nat gas) but low variable (operating cost). My bet is we don’t see another nuke built (started, there are a couple under construction but I think they will be the last) in the USA in my lifetime.

Wind: Was renewable-of-choice until recently, cost seems to have bottomed or nearly so. Obviously no fuel cost but construction comparable to coal on $/MW basis. Large land requirements and some environmental impacts (birds and bats), but no emissions including no CO2. Siting issues (NIMBY) becoming increasingly difficult as the easy sites are taken. Tower height and rotor diameter keep increasing to gain efficiency. Typically higher transmission cost as windy areas are not popular for living. Depended heavily on tax credits which are sunsetting (perhaps), since credits are based on MWh produced, can run at negative price, make it up with tax subsidy, and really wreak havoc on the electric markets. Intermittent resource that cannot be dispatched unless wind is blowing - wind is rarely coincident with load.

Solar: Now the renewable-of-choice because costs are comparable or lower than wind. Huge land requirements, but continuing technology development is driving down costs further. Unfortunately not very useful at night, not dispatchable, thus like wind unreliable without being “firmed” by nat gas (today) or batteries (future, perhaps). Probably the technology of choice for most utilities in the USA if they need capacity/energy because of the risks of nat gas especially potential short life due to environmental/CO2 constraints developing. Solar levelized cost is close to nat gas combined cycle, lower in some regions with excellent solar radiation.

Storage: Not ready for prime time, but making progress. Holy grail of electric industry for over 100 years; perhaps we’re close to economically viable large-scale storage (batteries, pumped storage already works but is very limited because of siting constraints).

By the way the 31% nat gas generation is not all steam; much of nat gas generation is direct burn in nat gas turbines. All coal is making steam, in contrast.

So, if you were in charge of a utility today, with a 30-40 year horizon, and needed new generation, what would you build to both keep costs minimized (typically the regulator’s concern) and ensure reliability?

Last edited by 2000cs; 09-13-2019 at 03:45 PM..
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      09-12-2019, 08:47 PM   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjb762 View Post
I'm not saying you or your buddy are wrong - or even that banning NG right now is a good thing - but if the estimates on the Washington Gas website is to be believed, the cost of electric heat doesn't seem THAT much higher than gas heat - less than $300 per year (<$25 per month). I mean, it's not nothing, and there are many people who it would be a lot for, but it doesn't seem like it would be enough to stop a development.
I installed an inverter-based heat pump last year, and ran it for all but the one week where we had sub-zero (F) temperatures. The electric usage was about 35% less than our oil-fired Energy Star baseboard hot water boiler cost to run the year before. The heat pump is rated for -5F (-20C) minimum outdoor temperature, but in reality started losing ground at around 12F (-11C).

If the electric heat prices are quoted using resistance heaters (either baseboard electric radiators or heater coils in the air handler), then I imagine that the cost would be way higher. If one follows the BMW i3 BEV model of using a heat pump with resistance heater backup for extreme cold weather for home heating, then a heat pump may be on par or cheaper than fossil fuels in all but the most arctic climates.....
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      09-13-2019, 09:26 AM   #49
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So your answer really is to continue allowing billions in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, and ignore the problem in the hopes that it will just fix itself? As I stated previously, those fossil fuel "sources of energy that actually work" don't have that much working time left before they are just a distant memory.

Also, I think you are giving American ingenuity an extremely short shrift. The fact that wind and solar won't currently power the grid, doesn't mean that they can't eventually be developed to a point where they will power the grid. There is a huge business opportunity here for bold capitalists and rugged individualists - for the man who refuses to blindly follow the fossil fuel herd like the rest of the talking point sheeple.
you realize wind/solar/hydro receive most of the government subsidies right? nearly 60% goes to renewable and ~25% to fossil fuels. The government has to offset the costs of these because they are expensive to build, expensive to operate, and 9 out of 10 times, the payback period is longer than the lifecycle of the equipment. However, getting these into your grid allows you to charge extra for "green" electricity and the government gives you the money to do it, so its a net gain in the end for the utility company.

I build/have built/upgraded/expanded power plants for reference.
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      09-13-2019, 09:42 AM   #50
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Originally Posted by JohnnyCanuck View Post
That's a blanket statement and therefore untrue. For example, here in BC, by the time Site C is finished, we will have significant overcapacity for hydro-electric. We could ban natural gas and make everyone drive an electric vehicle without burning a single lump of coal. So, when a city like Seattle considers this with almost no use of fossil fuels for electricity ... in a vacuum it does reduce carbon emissions.

Not in favour of the idea and not endorsing it at all. But, the usual hysteric dismay over everything around here turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy of junk science, stereotyping, fact-free debate, and general paranoia. Using your post for illustrative purposes because it's both factually wrong and completely accurate (if this was West Virginia for example) at the same time. Not lumping you into that group.

The truth is that there is no harm in reducing carbon footprint as a general principle. If the scientists are right, failing to do so will have catastrophic consequences. If they're not, we would still have cleaner air and water and that's a good thing. In other words, I think we should firmly hedge our bets on reducing carbon emissions. However, that doesn't mean banning natural gas where it would burn coal or electricity is not a practical heating source (I've never agreed with Grumpy on anything before and I probably never will again but he made a reasonable point). But, for a Seattle to consider this and have a debate or discussion about it? Makes perfect sense and I'll pass on the chicken little venomous dogma coming from the usual sources around here.
I know of the Site C project (im building a hydro electric facility currently as well) and you realize the Site C project is estimated to be roughly $10billion by the time its done and generous estimates put it at paying back only $3 billion of that if it sells all electricity generated at the current market cost. The remainder is paid by taxpayers through subsidies. Lets not even talk about the environmental and economic issues surrounding building a dam and flooding the area.

The same is true for most of Seattle's hydroelectric facilities, as well as every hydroelectric facility I have built (up to 3 in the last 10 years)

which is why I say "no other electrical generation, except for nuclear, would be able to sustain this level of increase without spending billions in the process. Solar, wind, hydro are all too inefficient to practically[sp] support it."
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      09-13-2019, 09:46 AM   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2000cs View Post
Since weíre on the subject, letís compare electric energy sources:

So, if you were in charge of a utility today, with a 30-40 year horizon, and needed new generation, what would you build to both keep costs minimized (typically the regulatorís concern) and ensure reliability?
Nuclear, Fossil Fuel, Renewable in that order with the caveat that I am having to pay for the plant myself and factor in the initial costs, payback period and life cycle of the plant.

Now if I'm getting the subsidies that the gov hands out for renewable energy that makes my payback significantly shorter, Nuclear, Renewable, Fossil.
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      09-13-2019, 10:34 AM   #52
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which is why I say "no other electrical generation, except for nuclear, would be able to sustain this level of increase without spending billions in the process. Solar, wind, hydro are all too inefficient to practically[sp] support it."
And sadly Nukes are dead in this country. The State of Pa. could not get a bill to the floor to save Three Mile island. And these are Republican folks
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      09-13-2019, 12:16 PM   #53
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And sadly Nukes are dead in this country. The State of Pa. could not get a bill to the floor to save Three Mile island. And these are Republican folks
everyone on both sides are afraid of nuclear power.

that hbo chernobyl series pretty much killed any chance they had
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      09-13-2019, 12:26 PM   #54
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you realize wind/solar/hydro receive most of the government subsidies right? nearly 60% goes to renewable and ~25% to fossil fuels. The government has to offset the costs of these because they are expensive to build, expensive to operate, and 9 out of 10 times, the payback period is longer than the lifecycle of the equipment. However, getting these into your grid allows you to charge extra for "green" electricity and the government gives you the money to do it, so its a net gain in the end for the utility company.

I build/have built/upgraded/expanded power plants for reference.
Sure. I think the percentage to renewables has actually been higher than that in the past, but that makes sense to me, up to a point. Was doesn't really make sense at this point, is allowing subsidies to a well established and highly profitable fossil fuel industry - whether it is directly to them (tax breaks or direct expenditures), or to consumers. Sure, it can artificially lower prices for consumers, but I'm not convinced that is an entirely good thing.
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      09-13-2019, 02:26 PM   #55
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I know of the Site C project (im building a hydro electric facility currently as well) and you realize the Site C project is estimated to be roughly $10billion by the time its done and generous estimates put it at paying back only $3 billion of that if it sells all electricity generated at the current market cost. The remainder is paid by taxpayers through subsidies. Lets not even talk about the environmental and economic issues surrounding building a dam and flooding the area.

The same is true for most of Seattle's hydroelectric facilities, as well as every hydroelectric facility I have built (up to 3 in the last 10 years)

which is why I say "no other electrical generation, except for nuclear, would be able to sustain this level of increase without spending billions in the process. Solar, wind, hydro are all too inefficient to practically[sp] support it."
If you're saying that Site C is a complete boondoggle, no argument from me. A mega-project with no purpose other than political and one of many good reasons that the Christy Clark goverment was thrown out on its ass.

However, my point was, having been built (and there is no way to stop completion, our current government looked hard at it), that excess capacity is there and available to be used. The economic environmental arguments to build Site C were bullshit (like you I consider environmental issues to include GHGs burned to build the damn thing (pun intended) as well as habitat destruction, etc). But, now that it's nearing completion, if the City of Vancouver decided to considering limiting natural gas permits on the premise of reducing carbon emissions, that would not be an unreasonable issue for them to investigate because of the excess hydro-electric capacity. I am not arguing that another river be dammed to eliminate the use of natural gas.

Last edited by JohnnyCanuck; 09-13-2019 at 05:22 PM..
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      09-13-2019, 05:14 PM   #56
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everyone on both sides are afraid of nuclear power.
No its actually an economic issue. Nukes can not compete with cheap gas. And the gas industry has the Republican lawmakers in their pocks (and I am a Republican)
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      09-13-2019, 05:22 PM   #57
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No its actually an economic issue. Nukes can not compete with cheap gas. And the gas industry has the Republican lawmakers in their pocks (and I am a Republican)
It is both. The economic issue is that low cost nat gas, made possible by fracking and the economics/operations of those wells (especially wet gas) is cheaper to convert to electricity today. But gas prices historically have been quite volatile and may again (most donít predict that, however). If gas prices rise we will wish we had kept our nukes operating, but the longer these low gas prices persist, the more nukes will be decommissioned.

It also is fear, which both prevents construction at all in many areas and drives extreme engineering and operating requirements, which in turn drive cost and reinforce the economic issue. We know how to build lower-cost nukes, modular, etc. but we chose not to because we perceive the risk as intolerable. That is fear (perceived risk out of proportion to real risk).
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      09-13-2019, 10:46 PM   #58
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in an ironic twist, this would create a huge demand increase for electricity. In order to efficiently meet this demand, coal plants would need to up capacity to meet it.

no other electrical generation, except for nuclear, would be able to sustain this level of increase without spending billions in the process. Solar, wind, hydro are all too inefficient to practilly support it.
Not necessarily.

There's still NatGas power generation.
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      09-13-2019, 11:02 PM   #59
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It also is fear, which both prevents construction at all in many areas and drives extreme engineering and operating requirements, which in turn drive cost and reinforce the economic issue. We know how to build lower-cost nukes, modular, etc. but we chose not to because we perceive the risk as intolerable. That is fear (perceived risk out of proportion to real risk).
Its not fear its cost The Gov chooses not to underwrite insurance and that adds to the cost. Only one thing is in the drivers seat in this country $$$. TMI will be shutting down next friday. Hint: it isn't about fear.

The 80% completed units in GA..Vogtle #3 and #4 will never go online and never will go to hot functional testing and again not fear its$$$$$$$$$$$$
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      09-14-2019, 12:41 AM   #60
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There's a research nuclear reactor on the research campus of the University of Texas. My (otherwise well educated) friends in Austin freak out when I point this out to them. These things are all over the place, and incredibly safe.

Carbon dioxide will kill us all, but nuclear is just too scary! Sigh.
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      09-14-2019, 08:38 AM   #61
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Climate change: Electrical industry's 'dirty secret' boosts warming https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-49567197
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      09-14-2019, 08:57 AM   #62
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Climate change: Electrical industry's 'dirty secret' boosts warming https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-49567197
Very interesting read, thanks for posting.
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      09-14-2019, 04:18 PM   #63
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Our Prime Minister thinks we can heat our home with Unicorn farts.
I thought you might be a New Zealander with that comment our one is just as ideological
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