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Doug Houseman Returns to the Energy Central Power Perspectives Podcast to Chat About Reserve Margins

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    This week's episode of the Energy Central Power Perspectives Podcast welcomed back fan-favorite guest, Doug Houseman, Principal Consultant at 1898 & Co. In this dynamic conversation, Doug sought to bring to a broader audience the necessary discussions about reserve margin on the grid. After events like 2021’s Winter Storm Uri in Texas nearly brought the state’s power sector down, many leaders are questioning long-held beliefs regarding capacity, the makeup of their generation fleets, and more. The energy industry is, of course, evolving towards a grid that’s more defined by renewable energy sources, distributed energy assets, and smart technology, but if those implementations undermine the ability of utilities to reliably deliver power when it’s most needed then it’s all for not.

    It was with that backdrop that Houseman shared his perspective on how utilities, regulators, and stakeholders largely should be looking to build out the necessary generation sector of the future. He highlights that utility leaders should be thinking about spare margins, long-term planning, and grid-scale evaluations. For example, Houseman notes:

    As we close down more and more nuclear power plants, and I'm not saying nuclear is the answer, but it's a base load that's schedulable and it's always there. We're running on a higher and higher % of variable resources, and we really need to be careful about how much of that we count into the reserve margin. We really need to, as MISO is now proposing, break the year into seasonal units and determine how much variable energy is available in each season.

    I was looking for a trail head, the difference in the amount of power that could be generated by 3kW of solar cells to run an electric vehicle charger, and I was shocked. In December, that 3kW gave me about three and a quarter kWh. In June, it gave me almost 50. And if you just take an average across the year, you're over weighting what it can produce in the winter and under weighting what it can produce in the spring. And that's something that we very seldom have those kinds of detailed discussions about what do you produce when and how far do you have to shift power from a different resource in order to level out the year?

    In Michigan, my home state, the last week in February, we need to start storing solar output in order to get through December and January. That's not a four hour battery. That's not an eight hour battery. That's a long interval, long duration battery that will probably have something in the neighborhood of 1,200 to 1,500 hours of storage in it. Who's going to pay for a battery we use once or twice a year? There's not a lot of income.

    This entry into the podcast, like all of the series episodes, can be found on all major podcast outlets, including iTunes and Spotify, or it can be listened to directly on the Energy Central platform. Give it a listen and share your reaction in the comments.

    Episode #77: ‘Spare Margins and Whether New Generation is Keeping the Pace' with Doug Houseman, Principal Consultant at 1898 & Co. [an Energy Central Power Perspectives™ Podcast]

    About Energy Central Podcast Series:

    The ‘Energy Central Power Perspectives™ Podcast’ features conversations with thought leaders in the utility sector. At least twice monthly, we connect with an Energy Central Power Industry Network community member to discuss compelling topics that impact professionals who work in the power industry. Some podcasts may be a continuation of thought-provoking posts or discussions started in the community or with an industry leader that is interested in sharing their expertise and doing a deeper dive into hot topics or issues relevant to the industry.

    The ‘Energy Central Power Perspectives™ Podcast’ is the premiere podcast series from Energy Central, a Power Industry Network of Communities built specifically for professionals in the electric power industry and a place where professionals can share, learn, and connect in a collaborative environment. Supported by leading industry organizations, our mission is to help global power industry professionals work better. Since 1995, we’ve been a trusted news and information source for professionals working in the power industry, and today our managed communities are a place for lively discussions, debates, and analysis to take place. If you’re not yet a member, visit to register for free and join over 200,000 of your peers working in the power industry.

    The Energy Central Power Perspectives™ Podcast is hosted by Jason Price, Community Ambassador of Energy Central. Jason is a Business Development Executive at West Monroe, working in the East Coast Energy and Utilities Group. Jason is joined in the podcast booth by the producer of the podcast, Matt Chester, who is also the Community Manager of Energy Central and energy analyst/independent consultant in energy policy, markets, and technology.

    If you want to be a guest on a future episode of the Energy Central Power Perspectives™ Podcast, let us know! We'll be pulling guests from our community members who submit engaging content that gets our community talking, and perhaps that next guest will be you! Likewise, if you see an article submitted by a fellow Energy Central community member that you'd like to hear about in more detail, feel free to send us a note to nominate them. To contact us, email Podcast interviews are free for Expert Members and professionals who work for a utility. We have package offers available for solution providers and vendors.


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