That is exactly right. The amount of power out on the grid is so enormous that once you connect to the grid, the grid determines the frequency of your turbine/generator. In order to connect to the grid, you have to make sure that you are synchronized to it meaning that you are at the same speed, that is a really complicated issue which I believe goes farther than just speed. Electric utility companies have what are called "power system supervisors." They continuously watch the flow of power through the grid in their service territory and monitoring frequency is how they do this. If they notice that the frequency is slowing down because of an increase in demand, they will bring more generation "online." That is right though, that the amount of power produced by one plant is so small compared with the amount of power on the grid, that the loss of one plant will not make a huge difference in frequency on the grid. But if you have in the case of the blackout last year, a transmission line drops out, suddenly you have a huge loss of load, the generators have over/under frequency protection which trips a generator offline at 57 or 63 hz, so you will have all these plants tripping offline.geometer said:If you're connected to the grid, you can't fudge frequency - it will be rock solid at the grid frequency no matter what you try. All you can really affect is the amount of reactive power you generate and its sign (in or out as they say in the utility biz).
As for being connected to NIST to maintain frequency...I know 60 hz is a standard frequency, so the power system supervisors might use that as a reference point for maintaining grid frequency and use the time signal of WWV for keeping accurate records. Not sure.
Reactive power has to do with the inductance of your loads, and that's all you can compensate for in generation. That is a complicated matter.