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  • #31
    Generally speaking dam releases are tied to peak hydropower demand and thus happen when people turn on air conditioners and the like. They generate alternating current, which is not storable in batteries like direct current. Thus they need to be actively supplying power as they are running.

    On top of that, hydropower is the only form of power which has zero effective fuel cost throughout most of the South. As a result it is the most profitable form of power when it is in use. It thus makes sense for the hydropower companies with contracts to operate the dams to wait for peak power demand, then generate their $0 fuel cost, 100% profit water. This typically happens in the middle of the day in summer rather than, say, at night (although evening power demand in the summer can also be high).

    If there were an unlimited supply of water in the lakes and no regulations on hydropower companies, they'd just generate all the time. Thankfully there is only so much water and the lakes must be kept somewhat full for drinking reservoir purposes. Typically by summer, our dry season, the generators' ability to suck free profits out of the lake has literally about dried up. Lack of rain + heat = no generation.

    All of this is equally true for Arkansas, which if anything has a less predictable and more dangerous generation process than Georgia/Tennessee (TVA v. Corps. of Engineers with contracts out to power companies like SWEPCO).

    Zach
    The Itinerant Angler: Podcast | Articles | About

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    • #32
      I wonder if Buford releases will increase to "make up" hydropower loss due to the recent fire in the Allatoona Powerhouse.
      Last edited by natureman; 05-28-14, 09:06 AM.

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      • #33
        Thanks Zach for the explanation.....makes sense.

        So I'm thinking there is only one way to resolve the dilemma of daytime generation.,,,,we fish at night. 😃
        The Drifter

        The contents of this message might be totally inaccurate, misguided or otherwise perverse. If you are stupid enough to follow any of the tips listed here and mess up yourself or your equipment, I am absolved of all responsibility. The information contained herein is based on my personal experience and by no means constitutes the correct way to do it. Your mileage may vary.

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        • #34
          Recent releases have certainly been fishing friendly (at least @ Jones Bridge!). With the mid-afternoon releases the river is great from late morning through to late evening. I've been able to catch quite a few fish "looking up" on recent trips, so that's great.

          The drive up to Settles was killing me when they were on the other schedule.
          You hit Suwanee Dam Road and think you are nearly there...... then another 15 minutes in single file ...

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          • #35
            I guess I'm an oldtimer...

            who first fished for trout on the Chattahoochee thirty some years ago.

            First, I discovered that you don't fish so far south for trout, except for a dam release of cold water from the bottom of Lake Lanier.

            You can fish anytime you want, as long as you call the Lake Lanier water release and it fits your schedule. It was always their schedule. Not my schedule.

            Got delayed, but hope to fish the river this month. Did my first task. Called the Lake Lanier water release. The training is ingrained.

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            • #36
              Originally posted by whitworth View Post
              who first fished for trout on the Chattahoochee thirty some years ago.

              First, I discovered that you don't fish so far south for trout, except for a dam release of cold water from the bottom of Lake Lanier.

              You can fish anytime you want, as long as you call the Lake Lanier water release and it fits your schedule. It was always their schedule. Not my schedule.

              Got delayed, but hope to fish the river this month. Did my first task. Called the Lake Lanier water release. The training is ingrained.
              Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure the tailwater between Buford Dam and Peachtree Creek is closed to nighttime fishing. Not trying to be petty or anything, I just don't want anyone to get in trouble.

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              • #37
                Originally posted by ZachMatthews View Post
                Generally speaking dam releases are tied to peak hydropower demand and thus happen when people turn on air conditioners and the like.

                On top of that, hydropower is the only form of power which has zero effective fuel cost throughout most of the South. As a result it is the most profitable form of power when it is in use. It thus makes sense for the hydropower companies with contracts to operate the dams to wait for peak power demand, then generate their $0 fuel cost, 100% profit water. This typically happens in the middle of the day in summer rather than, say, at night (although evening power demand in the summer can also be high).


                Zach

                Zach-

                What is your source? Particularly wondering what is peak "Hydropower demand", who measures it and how? How does the timing of releases actually correlate to the theory that Buford and MF generation schedules are directly tied to hot summer days and air conditioners? Meaning, if I look at last year's releases from Buford and MF, are they generating between 2 and 6 pm with peak temperatures, or overnight?

                I may be hung up on industry jargon but "peaking" plants seems to exclude all hydro power by definition. Our hydro plants in the South East small even by hydro standards (compared to Grand Coulee or some of the Chinese mega dams). I'm not sure they could generate enough KW to satisfy the anecdotal "hot summer day, lots of A/C" scenario that is often cited here.

                FACTS FROM GPC--
                http://www.georgiapower.com/about-us...figures.cshtml

                Generation Sources in 2012
                Coal 39%
                Nuclear 27%
                Oil and Gas 33%
                Hydro 1%

                PLANT CAPACITY IN KW
                Bowen 3,160,000 Coal
                Morgan Falls 16,800 Hydro


                I have doubts that Hydro is the cheapest or most profitable source of generation. Here's some DOE estimates.

                Estimated Levelized Cost of New Generation Resources, 2019[12] U.S. Average Levelized Cost for Plants Entering Service in 2019
                (2012 USD/MWh)
                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of...ergy_estimates

                Natural Gas Combined Cycle - $64/MW
                Hyrdoelectric - $85/MW
                Last edited by mbible; 06-02-14, 11:01 PM.
                sigpic "In the end, the meat bucket was a situation of mind where everything was going to be okay."

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                • #38
                  Interesting points, mbible. I'm gonna trust your info for the time being because I'm too tired to go look anything up for myself this evening. (Figured I'd be lazy about it.)

                  It was brought to my attention some time back that hydro-generation of electricity isn't a form of supply that can quickly be brought online. I figure that either the COE is generating or releasing for other reasons, or it may be that they are looking ahead to the following day's forecast on a daily basis to try to ensure that the turbines at Buford Dam are brought online and operational in order to be able to provide a supplement or boost if required. Having cooler weather the past few days could explain why the releases have been of particularly short duration.

                  Good points regarding the cost efficiency of hydro- versus coal. Fossil fuels are demonized more than they ought to be. Coal plants can be, and are being run cleanly utilizing scrubbers. Natural gas combusts to produce water and carbon dioxide. Nuclear power provides the most bang for the buck, but the waste material from spent rods requires special handling and special storage. Hydro-power is reliable and perpetually abundant, but costs a bit more and certainly impacts the environment in which it is produced (else there would be no trout fishing in the 'Hooch below Buford Dam like there is today).
                  If you have difficulty understanding the post above, read it out loud and it should make sense. This NGTO member is known for his poor hill-billy upbringing and his affinity for all things from Louisiana (particularly if it relates to LSU). It makes for a poor mix of accents and much difficulty in translation. He was doing well for so long, but now seems to have regressed.

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                  • #39
                    Morgan Falls is irrelevant. They just release based on the ACOE schedule. The power is negligible to their operation. BD production is 10X larger. Still not close to coal or nuclear but more significant. I don't think Zach is considering the mitigation both Ga Power and the Feds are obligated to conduct in the disturbed ecosystems which can easily exceed the cost of clean air fines and nuclear waste disposal costs.

                    http://www1.gadnr.org/greenspace/c_p...Ch3Pied002.pdf
                    Can I soak the felt on my wading boots with CDC dressing and walk on water? If so, should I start a church? What should I call it?
                    -FM

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                    • #40
                      Originally posted by ccorneli View Post
                      Morgan Falls is irrelevant. They just release based on the ACOE schedule. The power is negligible to their operation. BD production is 10X larger. Still not close to coal or nuclear but more significant. I don't think Zach is considering the mitigation both Ga Power and the Feds are obligated to conduct in the disturbed ecosystems which can easily exceed the cost of clean air fines and nuclear waste disposal costs.

                      http://www1.gadnr.org/greenspace/c_p...Ch3Pied002.pdf
                      Yeah- many different ways to measure "cost" of power- fossil is more expensive if you add in externalities.

                      But I am genuinely curious about the oft-cited notion that the dams generate during peak hours- I'm just not certain either way if that is true, but the numbers never backed the anecdote in my CPA's mind. This is an interesting forward looking article that explains a bit about today's peaking plants and makes some interesting points about the potential of alternative sourced peaking plants for the future:
                      http://www.cleanenergy.org/wp-conten...ort-8.7.13.pdf

                      Agree about MF vs BD. I'd go step further and say the all the hydro in the state of GA combined is irrelevant to peak load - meaning, it's not something we can "fire up" on a hot day and make any difference. At a peak of over 16,000MW per hour, those resources are just not big enough.

                      To clarify on the cost table I linked to - environmental remediation and tax credits were NOT included in those costs. Those were the costs to operate the plants- which do go beyond just fuel:

                      Levelized cost ... represents the per-kilowatthour cost (in real dollars) of building and operating a generating plant over an assumed financial life and duty cycle. Key inputs to calculating levelized costs include overnight capital costs, fuel costs, fixed and variable operations and maintenance (O&M) costs, financing costs, and an assumed utilization rate for each plant type/. ... The availability of various incentives, including state or federal tax credits, can also impact the calculation of levelized cost. The values shown in the tables in this discussion do not incorporate any such incentives."
                      Last edited by mbible; 06-02-14, 11:00 PM.
                      sigpic "In the end, the meat bucket was a situation of mind where everything was going to be okay."

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                      • #41
                        $50 vs. $300 per MWh

                        Certainly hydropower demand and price plays a role. Market price for electricity may be $50 per MWh on your average day. However, in summer afternoons, it can be $300/MWh. Thus, it makes economical sense to generate 127 MW (Buford Dam) in summer between hours 4 and 8 pm. 127 MW is a small capacity when the whole state is considered. However, 1 MW can power +100 homes during peak use. My household uses ~8 kW (0.008 MW) during peak times. Thus, 127 MW is not a small capacity either.

                        Power demand is not as great during the weekends, because many offices are closed. This is a win-win situation for COE and people who work Mon-Fri.

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                        • #42
                          Originally posted by Spinnerman View Post
                          Certainly hydropower demand and price plays a role. Market price for electricity may be $50 per MWh on your average day. However, in summer afternoons, it can be $300/MWh. Thus, it makes economical sense to generate 127 MW (Buford Dam) in summer between hours 4 and 8 pm. 127 MW is a small capacity when the whole state is considered. However, 1 MW can power +100 homes during peak use. My household uses ~8 kW (0.008 MW) during peak times. Thus, 127 MW is not a small capacity either.

                          Power demand is not as great during the weekends, because many offices are closed. This is a win-win situation for COE and people who work Mon-Fri.
                          Originally posted by Spinnerman View Post
                          Certainly hydropower demand and price plays a role. Market price for electricity may be $50 per MWh on your average day. However, in summer afternoons, it can be $300/MWh. Thus, it makes economical sense to generate 127 MW (Buford Dam) in summer between hours 4 and 8 pm. 127 MW is a small capacity when the whole state is considered. However, 1 MW can power +100 homes during peak use. My household uses ~8 kW (0.008 MW) during peak times. Thus, 127 MW is not a small capacity either.

                          Power demand is not as great during the weekends, because many offices are closed. This is a win-win situation for COE and people who work Mon-Fri.
                          Not sure I follow your comment but I'd like to understand it better. You seem to be talking about market prices of electricity where I was citing the cost of generating electricity.


                          No such thing as hydro demand - only electricity demand.

                          From utility perspective, two factors drive grid management - how much does a generation asset cost to run and how much can it generate. The difference in the cost of operating hydro vs nat gas does not change with the weather.

                          From a consumer standpoint we buy the amount of electricity we need at a regulated price which is the same regardless of how it was generated (in Ga at least).

                          Agree with you that the price Duke energy would charge Ga power for energy that Duke generated rises with higher demand and hotter weather. That does happen on hot days and the grid operator at Ga power has to decide 'should I buy 200mw from duke to meet rising demand, or fire up another unit at Plant Bowen'. Hydro never really enters that calculus because it's just not big enough to move the needle.

                          I think most of that lines up with what zach said and what I think you were saying. I'm just being parsnickety about the notion that hydro plants are used a peakers because that notion leads to all sorts of false claims about the capabilities of alternative energy. I love alternative energy and it has a place in the current stack and more so in the future. But All the hydro, wind and solar in the southeast could not satisfy load requirements at ga power on a single summer day.- even if it were possible to run it all at I've- which it is not.

                          Said more directly- hydro is a field mule and peaker plants are race horses. You don't call the mule when you need to run the derby (ie meet peak demand). Likewise you don't send your race horse out to plod along plowing the field day after day.

                          Yes hydro plants are running on hot days- but that correlation does not mean that they were turned on because it got hot. If you want to know if the dam will release ya gotta check the schedule- can't infer anything from the anecdotes about hydro being run during peak demand.

                          I'll shut up now- feels like I'm belaboring a point on industry jargon that doesn't benefit people all that much unless they have a lot of industry experience.
                          sigpic "In the end, the meat bucket was a situation of mind where everything was going to be okay."

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                          • #43
                            Power... more power...

                            In my previous post "Hydropower demand" stands for "electricity demand". In case all other sources are running already, then the electricity demand equals to hydropower demand.

                            Running hydropower is very cheap (free "fuel"), but the cost of making all the infrastructure is (was) expensive. Thus, the total lifecycle cost is not that cheap.

                            Seems that we are in general agreement - with one exception: Hydropower is very fast for load responses. The challenge in case of 'Hooch, one cannot just start generating when people are boating and fishing downstream.

                            And I also agree: This is not what the NGTO.org is for. Interesting for a few people, but not for the general audience.

                            Cheers!

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                            • #44
                              Originally posted by mbible View Post
                              No such thing as hydro demand - only electricity demand.
                              Actually, this statement made me remember that ACE administers the Hooch from Buford Dam to Apalachicola Bay, FL. Status of all downstream lakes is part of Buford Dam's concerns regarding water release time and duration. And I'm sure they account for power sales when they release water, even if power isn't the most important factor in that release.

                              Morgan Falls (GA Power facility) has an incredibly complex formula for releases, since they have so little water storage capability. They are impacted by:
                              -ACE needs up/downstream
                              -Buford release schedule
                              -Feeder creek status below Buford
                              -Rain events anywhere in the watershed
                              -and 35 other things I can't remember!

                              Want to Help Ease DNR's Budget Woes? Buy a TU license Plate!

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