This is such a great and timely conversation. I'm a climate activist living in Georgia, so we are keenly aware of what's at stake with the PSC ruling acquiescing to Georgia Power's request. Thanks for all of the ideas for ways to shift the narrative and push for a more responsible response to electricity demand.

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Apr 24Liked by Samuel R

Hi Maurice,

Same here! I'm involved in a local activist group trying to fight a new gas plant in northern Wisconsin. The regulators here are acting like it's 1974 instead of 2024--fossil fuels as business as usual. The push for more gas plants nationwide and globally remains an undertold story.

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About ten years ago I did analysis for a project that sited batteries behind the meter of an AWS datacenter to try to save money by "peak shaving" – for most commercial and industrial sites, "demand charges" based on the draw in the highest 15 minutes of a month are a substantial part of their electricity bill.

It turned out that the load from the datacenter was close to a flat line, so there really wasn't much for the batteries to do.

However, with an appropriately structured rate plan, you could incentivize deployment of behind-the-meter batteries to charge when electricity is cheap and clean, and reduce the load during peak times for the grid – instead of flattening "peaky" load, transform a flat load into "anti-peaky" load. As far as I know, this has not been done.

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Consider R2X (Renewabes to Everything) as an answer to new gas plants. R2X is the solution by replacing gas and coal fired turbines with CO2 fired turbines in a closed loop. The plant's feedstock? Excess and curtailed energy on the local grid (ERCOT, SPP, CAISO et al).

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Apr 27·edited Apr 27

I think that the key is for state legislators to override the PUCs that make anti climate rules; and for the honest PUCs, they should keep on making pro climate rules. Of course, the citizens of each state should organize and phone and write these legislators constantly.

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To me, an annoying/important part of this story, is how it became a MSM hype cycle thing, kinda based on one or two reports from grid think tanks. Maybe because so many of these data centers are near DC? (I get the feeling that AI compute power is being used to write long reports and briefs and then used again to summarize these docs for the unlucky recipients.) Maybe because the Silicon Valley types are freaking about their "100% clean" targets, so it fits in with their fission/fusion fantasies?

Thank you for at least trying to unpack the peak demand vs. consumption issue, while "electrical demand" seems to be imply either in much of the media. 2022 to 2023, EIA sez US kWh consumption went down, but I guess peak demands went up? I worry that EVs are getting plugged in at 5 or 6 pm and contributing to the problem, instead of sane charging. For most residential customers, what's the obvious incentive for sane charging? I've been working with two very GHG-motivated pals who've had EVs for two years, get juice from a utility with an awesome, but optional, TOD rate. Neither of the guys had bothered to utilize it, and just plugged in when they got home which often added load during early evening using marginal fossil generation for sure.

Those reports, as I recall, didn't say much about 2023 being the hottest year ever and maybe that, along with crappy AC/HPs (or toaster heat), in crappy houses, down south, having a bit to do with those peak demands. In the states where that is the worst I don't see much effort to address it.

Lastly, can folks please discriminate between new baseload gas, to replace or add to baseload coal or existing gas, and new peaker/backup gas which may be needed in a grid with solar, wind and reasonable GWh batteries. If these simple turbines end up being 5-10% of our grid energy and avoid the need for 10000000s of miles of transmission or 1000000s of GWhs of storage, that's OK with me while we shift from 100% fossil ICE cars to EVs and from 100% fossil furnaces to HPs on that 10% fossil grid.

Sorry, there I go again. Cheers!

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