PJM Warns of Risks Expected Resource Retirements Pose to Grid Reliability

PJM Interconnection (PJM), the regional transmission organization that manages the electrical grid and ensures power reliability Ohio and 12 other states, issued a report late last week that outlined its concerns for future power reliability. The report states, “for the first time in recent history, PJM could face decreasing (power) reserve margins,” but also reiterated its commitment to “facilitating decarbonization policies.” 

The PJM report warned of the of expected retirements and demand growth by 2030 and highlights four trends that present increasing reliability risks during the transition:

  1. The growth rate of electricity demand will continue to increase.
  2. Thermal (coal and natural gas) generators are retiring at a rapid pace.
  3. Retirements outpacing the construction of new resources.
  4. PJM’s interconnection queue is composed primarily of intermittent and limited-duration resources. Given the operating characteristics of these resources, multiple megawatts of these resources are needed to replace 1 MW of thermal generation. 

PJM concluded managing the energy transition will require collaborative efforts of all PJM stakeholders, including state and federal agencies, whose policies are impacting plant retirements and the pace of replacement resources—and of course consumers who expect power reliability to be maintained.

This recent article from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), published in response to PJM’s report, states that many policymakers seem to not be paying attention to this issue. The article says, “The conclusion is clear. The left’s green-energy transition is incompatible with a growing economy and improving living standards. Renewables don’t provide reliable power 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and the progressive campaign to shut down coal and gas plants that do will invariably result in outages.”

Together, the WSJ article and the new report from PJM summarize the current state of affairs faced by the utilities industry, highlighting the mismatch between policy objectives (both government and corporate) and the realities of operating a reliable electric power system. OEC applauds PJM’s commitment to ensuring an efficient and reliable energy transition, and will continue utilizing a diverse power generation fleet to provide affordable, always-available power to Ohioans. 

Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives President and CEO, Pat O’Loughlin, recently spoke in Washington D.C. before the Energy and Commerce Committee about the issue and discussed recent impacts in his latest vodcast episode of Upfront & REAL.

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