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US's Largest Public Utility Names Panel to Study Blackouts

The nation’s largest public utility has appointed an independent panel to look into power failures that spurred the decision to implement rolling blackouts during dangerously cold conditions late last year, the Tennessee Valley Authority announced Thursday.

The public utility said the panel will include American Public Power Association President Joy Ditto, former Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker from Tennessee and retired Electric Power Research Institute CEO Mike Howard.

The sun sets over the Manhattan skyline during a major power outage affecting a large part of the Northeastern United States and Canada on August 14, 2003. 

“These leaders bring tremendous experience and expertise not only in public power and energy systems, but also an understanding of the growing energy needs of the region," Don Moul, TVA chief operating officer, said in a statement.

TVA has said it takes full responsibility for the Dec. 23 and 24 rolling blackouts and is undergoing an internal review of what happened.

TVA experienced its highest ever winter peak-power demand on Dec. 23.

The utility said a combination of high winds and freezing temperatures caused its coal-burning Cumberland Fossil Plant in Cumberland City to go offline when critical instrumentation froze up. The Bull Run coal-burning plant in Clinton also went offline, TVA spokesman Scott Brooks said. The utility “had issues at some of our natural gas units” as well, Brooks said.

TVA said most of the local power companies it supplies were able to keep the rolling blackouts to “relatively short durations” for the people dependent on its electricity.

TVA told all 153 local power companies to reduce their load on the electric grid by 5% or 10%, depending on the timing and the day, Brooks said. It was up to local power companies to decide how to make the reductions, and the rolling temporary power reductions were an option — not a requirement — for them, Brooks said.

To continue reading, click here to view the full article on CoalZoom.com.

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Highwall Safety Alert

Since CY 2012, falling rocks and materials from hazardous highwalls have resulted in 9 mining fatalities and 27 serious injuries.

Best Practices

- Develop and follow a plan for the safe control of all highwalls where miners work and travel in close proximity to the highwall.

- Train miners to recognize highwall hazards.

- Conduct highwall examinations and assure hazards (loose rocks, overhangs, trees, etc.) are taken down or supported prior to work or travel near the highwall. Examine more frequently after rain, freezing and thawing.

- Scale highwalls to eliminate hazards, e.g. loose rocks or overhangs. Perform scaling from a position that will not expose miners to injury. Until hazards are corrected, place warning signs or barricades to prevent entry.

- Restrict highwall height to allow available equipment to safely scale the highwall. If benching is necessary, provide adequate bench width based on the type of equipment used for routine clearing or scaling operations.

- Develop blasting plans and use proper blasting techniques. Examine highwalls after blasting.

To continue reading, click here to view the full article on CoalZoom.com.

CoalZoom.com - Your Foremost Source for Coal News.  


Biggest Conference of the Year for the Mining Industry

MINEXCHANGE 2023 SME Annual Conference & Expo and CMA 125th National Western Mining Conference is the only event dedicated to all disciplines of mining engineering. Held February 26-March 1, 2023 at the Colorado Convention Center, MINEXCHANGE is bringing an impressive lineup of speakers, panels, and technical sessions to more than 7,000 attendees from around the world.

Special events include:

Awards – Recognizing leaders, innovators and icons

Photo and video contest – A multimedia competition elevating mining

SME Foundation Gala – Celebratory kickoff for the annual conference

Young Leaders Programs – Making a difference in the future of the mining industry

Student Activities – Networking and development opportunities for students

PieLC – Young Leaders Social Fundraiser

PieLC is a first of its kind fundraising event hosted by the SME Young Leaders. Five SME Leaders selected a program they would like to raise money for. The person with the most money raised is safe and gets to throw pies in the faces of the other participants. Members can participate by making a donation in support of the SME Leader they would like to save from being PIE’d. “This fundraiser aims to raise awareness and support SME Foundation programs like Miners Give Back and the PhD Fellowship,” said Kathleen Tew, Chair of the Young Leaders Committee.

To continue reading, click here to view the full article on CoalZoom.com.

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WVCA's Mining Symposium Set for April 18-19; Annual Greenbrier Membership Meeting August 10-12

Below is a message from Chris Hamilton, President, West Virginia Coal Association:

The West Virginia Coal Association’s Annual Mining Symposium is set for April 18-19 at the Embassy Suites in Charleston.  Please mark your calendars now and plan to attend.

This year’s Symposium is cosponsored by the West Virginia Coal Mining Institute and will serve as our combined Mining symposium and Joint Spring meeting.  The program will feature a lineup of excellent speakers and timely topics geared for all mining professionals.  Engineering credits will also be available for Symposium participants.

The April Symposium will also feature our Annual Mountaineer Guardian Safety Awards and Environmental Excellence Awards Luncheons.

We ask that you mark these days on your calendar and plan to join us in April to make our 49th Symposium a success.

Online registration, sponsorship opportunities and other Symposium details will follow nest week.

The second date we ask you to hold is August 10-12 for our Annual Membership Meeting at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulfur Springs WV.  This meeting has been moved to the second week in August to accommodate the LIV Golf Tournament scheduled for the previous week at the resort.  Please mark your calendars now for this important event and look for other details to be released in the coming weeks.

To continue reading, click here to view the full article on CoalZoom.com.

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The U.S. Grid is Running on Empty

As we’re coming to learn, the bitter cold that forced rolling outages in parts of the Carolinas and Tennessee over Christmas also pushed neighboring grids right to the very edge. While the lights didn’t go out on the PJM, MISO and ERCOT grids, grid operators were at times left scrambling. And now, after-action reports are shedding some much-needed light on the perilous state of the nation’s grid reliability.

While no fuel source came through the bitter cold unscathed – mechanical challenges in the frigid temperatures took plants of all kinds offline – the natural gas fleet has been left with a blackeye. Not only did gas plants fail to operate at startling numbers when called upon, but they faced alarming fuel shortages, a now reoccurring problem across large swaths of the country that is emerging as an alarming vulnerability in the nation’s energy supply.

PJM, which serves more than 65 million people from New Jersey to Illinois, saw 23% of its generating fleet shutdown on Dec. 24. Natural gas plants accounted for 70% -- or 32 gigawatts – of the nearly 46 gigawatts of outages. While coal plants also faced challenges, 37% of the grid’s gas fleet failed, far outpacing outages from any other fuel source. According to PJM, a significant percentage of plant failures came from fuel supply problems.

This isn’t the first time PJM has faced gas supply problems from bitter cold but it’s a problem growing more pronounced as the gas fleet accounts for an ever-larger share of the grid’s dispatchable generation. In January of 2018, during another polar vortex event, half of the total PJM natural gas capacity was not available to supply peak demand. And in February of 2014, during another cold snap, PJM found that 23% of total generator outages were due to interruptions of natural gas supply. In both 2018 and 2014, it was coal generation that came to the rescue, ramping up power supply when gas couldn’t.

To continue reading, click here to view the full article on CoalZoom.com.

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