PJM wants to postpone plant retirements to ensure reliability
- PJM, the regional transmission operator (RTO) for much of the Midwest and mid-Atlantic states said last week it will seek delays in the retirement of 2,500 megawatts of generation through April 2016.
- The move, Columbus Business First reports, comes out of concern for reliability after last winter's polar vortex. Then, severe weather led to 22%, or 40,000 megawatts, of forced outages. PJM's normal outage rate is about 7%.
- If the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approves the request, it could mean thousands of megawatts of coal power could stay online, in spite of proposed EPA regulations that are expected to push them to retirement, along with natural gas competition, in the coming decades.
In November, PJM CEO Terry Boston declared that his RTO's grid was ready for winter 2014-2015 after the outage difficulties of a year before.
But, Boston warned then, winter 2015-2016 will be more of a challenge for electricity providers. By then the EPA's new mercury rules will have gone into effect, forcing the retirement of up to 8,000 megawatts of coal fired generation. The proposed EPA Clean Power Plan will only make the value proposition for coal power worse from then on, and carbon capture technologies meant to bring coal into the 21st century regulatory environment have yet to prove themselves cost effective.
No specific plants are identified in PJM's extension application to FERC. The EPA's mercury and air toxins rule is currently under review by the Supreme Court, and a court challenge to the Clean Power Plan is in the works as well.
- Columbus Business First Transmission grid operator wants plants to stay open to protect against winter shortages
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