Backup Power Risks Reveal More Pre-Sanction Shenanigans
shatter the illusion that the Muskrat Falls project will avoid the need for
oil-fired generation in the province. Upon
decommissioning of the 490MW steam generation capacity at the Holyrood Thermal
Generating Station, there is a critical reliability scenario arising in the all
too likely event the Labrador Island Link (LIL) experiences an outage that will
lead to a 500MW capacity deficit on the Avalon Peninsula. Another report identifies that even when
Muskrat runs optimally, there is insufficient capacity reserve without the
addition of two new 58.5MW Combustion Turbines (CTs).
distorted the comparison of the Isolated vs Interconnected pre-sanction
scenarios to favour Muskrat. As reality
sets in, Nalcor finds itself left with only one viable solution: the installation
of several new diesel CTs, likely on the very same Holyrood site. The irony of building the colossal Muskrat
Falls megaproject for the purpose of closing Holyrood, only to find that a
direct replacement must be constructed, is an astonishingly shameful exposure
of Nalcor’s deceit.
Reliability and Resource Adequacy Study
complexity and scale of the LIL poses considerable certainty of outage events
that may last from just a few hours to potentially weeks or even months. Unacceptable reliability is bad enough, but
an extra plot twist comes as Nalcor provides just enough information to read
between the lines that the off-Avalon regions of the Island ought to be
adequately served by Island generation at all times. The Avalon region, however, will be
considerably shortchanged and condemned to suffer rotating outages.
Further, Nalcor admits in this report they cannot assure any
firm energy could be imported over the Maritime Link during winter and even if
it could, they further admit transmission constraints won’t get the extra power
to the Avalon anyway. The choice Nalcor deliberately
leaves unanswered, perhaps because the saga before the PUB has been mandated to
last all year, is whether to endure many repeats of DarkNL-like rotating
outages, or to meet best practice reliability criteria and build a substantial
new fuel-fired backup system.
Crunching an LIL Outage
the energy shortfall across the Island on a cold winter day without the
Labrador Island Link in service. The
chart clearly shows a minimum power shortfall of near 200MW rising to 500MW
during the daily peaks. Nearly one-third
of the Island load would be unserved during daytime hours. As the chart shows a pattern of normal power
delivery though, it doesn’t accurately convey the magnitude of the problem: the
required cold load pickup after an outage would feature much larger and broader
peaks. The bottom line is a lot of
customers won’t get power without the LIL functioning at a high level.
veils the fact that the problem is not evenly distributed. As all of the Island’s firm generation is off
the Avalon, virtually all of those areas have the potential for adequate power
supply. Notwithstanding possible
violation of reserve margins, the lights are likely to be on everywhere but the
Avalon. Nalcor executives are surely a
bit shy to show the public a similar chart for the Avalon Peninsula sub-system
only. If they did, it would show nearly
half the required demand cannot be served in the best case. With cold load issues, the problem will only
to Island generation only by the Bay D’Espoir East transmission system having a
limit of 650MW. Avalon demand exceeds
1100MW on cold days thanks to the prolific use of electric heating. Perhaps it’s no secret but it bears
repeating: Holyrood runs every winter primarily, if not solely, to serve the
Nalcor think We’re Stunned?
will develop after closing the Holyrood power station. They appear to sheepishly suggest that an
Avalon backup system would be a good idea without admitting it is an essential
solution. Despite the absurdity, does
Nalcor wish us to believe this was unforeseen?
This had to be completely foreseeable and it should have been included in
the Muskrat Interconnected pre-sanction cost estimates as a direct project cost. Why wasn’t it included? Perhaps because the significant costs would
have hurt their financial analysis and especially because a sacred objective
sold to the public was to eliminate oil burning at Holyrood. Had they said Holyrood would be replaced with
another fuel burning power station of matching capacity even after building
Muskrat, their project would’ve been tough, perhaps impossible, to get the
the CT Requirements
to mitigate the frequent loss of a unit at Holyrood (which performed exceptionally
well this winter, by the way). This CT
would be maintained post-Holyrood, however, the new Nalcor report fails to provide
an overall operating strategy. The
report simply presents the cost of 1, 2, or 4 new CTs of 66MW each. It also provides an option for a 170MW
Combined Combustion Turbine plant.
of 4 x 66 MW CTs. The CCCT is only
advantageous for long-term steady baseload usage; it is entirely unsuited to
act as an emergency standby unit. It’s
unclear of course whether the inclusion of the CCCT option means Nalcor may be
implying we need a new baseload diesel-fired CT as part of the backup strategy
– this would be an outrageous travesty if it is so.
question arises whether the addition of 4 x 66MW units would suffice. Adding that to the existing 123MW unit totals
387MW. Why not meet the full 500MW
deficit Nalcor describes?
alternatives. Do they absurdly think LIL
outage events won’t coincide with peak winter demand? Logic suggests that winter peak demands will
be the stressful event that breaks the system.
It therefore seems 6 units of 66MW each are needed to assure power
reliability on the Avalon.
reduce peak loads. Nalcor does
acknowledge they and Newfoundland Power have just started a new DSM study. Let’s hope they “see the light” this time and
not just the LED-type. Their previous
joint studies appeared to be pre-determined from the outset to support the
development of Muskrat and resembled nothing like that completed in other
provinces. We always hope the next time
is different, but no one should hold their breath. We are not that stunned.
Cost of New Backup CTs
$1.0B. To most of us, this is a clear Muskrat
project cost (again Nalcor, we’re not stunned) but Nalcor is almost certain to
say it’s an unrelated capital cost and that it will be a part of NL Hydro
operations and rate base. The 123MW unit
should also be categorized as a post-Holyrood Muskrat requirement and part of
the project cost.
than fuel) that when extrapolated for 6 new units plus the existing 123MW unit
will come very close to the O&M cost at the old Holyrood power station.
for an answer, Nalcor will explain their backup strategy better and a revised cost
and rate impact estimate will be prepared.
For 6 new units, that rate impact will be in the ballpark of 1.5 c/kWh. This of course is a new increase on top of
the Muskrat rate increases the public is already anticipating.
there might be $100-150M/yr in fuel savings achieved. Unfortunately, most of that savings will be
absorbed by the financing costs of the new CTs.
As a result, there may be only about $50M/yr in net cost reduction achieved
at Holyrood. If Muskrat infeed via the
LIL has a bad year, that will quickly go up in smoke.
Report: Marginal Cost Study Update
of tenuous and arguably creative assumptions to be considered in rate design, potential
time-of-use rates and other measures. Buried
among this were a few key surprise details that intersect with the backup power
acknowledges there is virtually zero capacity and energy load growth across
that time. Later comes a statement, “Hydro’s
planned capacity additions for years 2019-2029 include two 58.5MW single cycle
combustion turbines.” This is the first
direct reference found in any Nalcor document that the revised load growth
scenario requires such new capacity additions.
Further the consultant clarifies, “the Island Interconnected System is
expected to be just capacity sufficient (14% reserves) in generation for years
2021-2029” which indicates the CT additions are vitally important to meet
winter peak capacity needs.
insufficient to replace Holyrood seemed markedly at odds with Nalcor’s
pre-sanction plans. Indeed,
doublechecking the DG3 capacity plan validated by Manitoba Hydro International
in 2012, confirms that 50MW of new CT capacity was needed in 2015 and then
another 50MW in 2032 was the first post-Muskrat addition. These additions were driven by the DG3 fantasy
load growth scenario that predicted about 25% load growth by 2032.
Muskrat Estimates for CT Requirements Woefully Underestimated
high-load conditions after Holyrood decommissioning, then none would be needed
under today’s flat load requirements.
Apparently, this is not so. In fact, we need quite a bit more than 100MW
despite the substantial decrease in the load forecast. Not only is 117MW of new CT capacity going to
be required but this is on top of the 123MW unit installed in 2014 that was
never included in the DG3 growth forecast.
These add up to 240MW necessary to satisfy no load growth conditions.
crowd (which includes some of the same analysts) had their pre-sanction
modelling severely wrong. For a start
they needed 240MW of CTs just to keep zero load growth reliability. Then to meet their load forecast, they should
have increased this to about 600MW. An
additional 400MW of emergency backup would also be needed (mostly if not
entirely on the Avalon) to mitigate LIL outage risks as Avalon load growth
continued to 2029. It seems the DG3 plan
was missing a massive $2B series of CT installations prior to 2029. O&M and fuel costs through that period
would also be substantial.
relied had indicated a $2.4B Cumulative Present Worth advantage for the Muskrat
Interconnected Option. That analysis,
shown to be wrong in many areas, now appears to be exposed as having another
major flaw. Had the pre-sanction
estimates included the required 1000MW armada of CTs – and more still in later
decades – this one change alone would likely have reduced the CPW advantage to
zero or worse.