PJM: Transmission issues arising from generation retirements

Generation retirements in the PJM Interconnection will necessitate quick transmission upgrades to maintain the reliability of the grid, Steven Herling, PJM’s vice president of planning, told TransmissionHub March 14.

So far, PJM hasn’t seen large-scale ramifications from the announced generation retirements, but has begun to see transmission issues percolating on a smaller scale, he said.

“We haven’t seen any major problems but we’re seeing smaller, local problems around these retirements,” he said. “We’ll have to be putting in place upgrades quickly so these generators can retire in a timely fashion.”

FirstEnergy (NYSE:FE) on Jan. 26 announced that it will retire nearly 3,000 MW of generation when it shuts down six older coal-fired plants located to comply with the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) and other environmental regulations. American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP) has also announced coal retirements, as have other generators in PJM.

Though wind generation is beginning to create congestion issues on PJM’s grid, baseload generation retirements are unlikely to help ease electricity flows, Herling said.

“The retirements will not specifically ease the usage of the system so that renewables can get connected because the wind has to be connected where the wind blows,” Herling said. “The old coal units that are retiring are scattered here, there and everywhere, and not specifically where the best wind pockets are.”

Herling noted that upgrading transmission in a timely manner will require “a lot of staff resources” in the face of these retirements, given the amount of work that will need to be invested in maintaining reliability.

More to follow on wind generation causing congestion in PJM.


About Rosy Lum 525 Articles
Rosy Lum, Analyst for TransmissionHub, has been covering the U.S. energy industry since 2007. She began her career in energy journalism at SNL Financial, for which she established a New York news desk. She covered topics ranging from energy finance and renewable policies and incentives, to master limited partnerships and ETFs. Thereafter, she honed her energy and utility focus at the Financial Times' dealReporter, where she covered and broke oil and gas and utility mergers and acquisitions.