PJM has a pretty short list these days of units to be retired by 2020

As of Sept. 30 of this year, 79,603.8 MW of capacity were in generation request queues at PJM Interconnection for construction through 2024, compared to an average installed capacity of 185,656.0 MW as of Sept. 30.

Of the capacity in queues, 6,727.8 MW, or 8.5%, are uprates and the rest are new generation, said Monitoring Analytics LLC, the Indendent Market Monitor for PJM, in a state of the market report issued Nov. 12. Wind projects account for 14,997.1 MW of nameplate capacity or 18.8% of the capacity in the queues. Combined-cycle projects account for 52,950.0 MW of capacity or 66.5% of the capacity in the queues.

On the retirement front, 27,029.0 MW have been, or are planned to be, retired between 2011 and 2020. Of that, 3,264.7 MW are planned to retire after 2015. In the first three quarters of 2015, 9,847.3 MW were retired, of which 7,661.8 MW were coal-fired units. The coal unit retirements were largely a result of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), which had an initial compliance deadline in April of this year, and low natural gas prices. Notable is that a much smaller group of coal units will be retired in April 2016, which is the expiration of a one-year extension period under MATS.

“A significant shift in the distribution of unit types within the PJM footprint continues as natural gas fired units enter the queue and steam units retire,” the report noted. “While only 1,947.0 MW of coal fired steam capacity are currently in the queue, 55,474.28 MW of gas fired capacity are in the queue. The replacement of coal steam units by units burning natural gas could significantly affect future congestion, the role of firm and interruptible gas supply, and natural gas supply infrastructure.”

The PJM queue contains a substantial number of projects that are not likely to be built. Excluding currently active projects and projects currently under construction, 2,246 projects, representing 264,381.0 MW, have completed the queue process since its inception. Of those, 604 projects, representing 33,328.5 MW, went into service. Of the projects that entered the queue process, 87.4% of the MW withdrew prior to completion. Such projects may create barriers to entry for projects that would otherwise be completed by taking up queue positions, increasing interconnection costs and creating uncertainty, the report said.

“The only new coal project since the second quarter of 2014 is the new Hatfield unit, with 1,710 MW of capacity,” said the report. “This project entered the queue in October 2014 and is intended to replace three coal units retired in October 2013 at the same location. With respect to retirements, 1,811.0 MW of coal fired steam capacity and 282.8 MW of natural gas capacity are slated for deactivation. The replacement of coal steam units by units burning natural gas could significantly affect future congestion, the role of firm and interruptible gas supply, and natural gas supply infrastructure.”

The report is referring to the Hatfield, also known as Hatfield’s Ferry, plant in Pennsylvania of FirstEnergy (NYSE: FE). FirstEnergy has declined to elaborate on just what its plans are for this site.

The units planned for retirement in PJM as of Sept. 30 are (names of owning companies have been added by Generation Hub):

  • Yorktown Units 1-2, Dominion zone, owned by Virginia Electric and Power, 323 MW, Coal, retire 31-Mar-16;
  • Dale Units 3-4, EKPC zone, owned by East Kentucky Power Cooperative, 149 MW, Coal, 16-Apr-16;
  • BL England Diesels, AECO zone, owned by RC Cape May Holdings, 8 MW, Diesel, 31-May-16
  • Riverside Unit 4, BGE zone, owned by Exelon, 74 MW, Natural gas, Steam, 01-Jun-16;
  • McKee Units 1-2, DPL zone, owned by city of Dover in Delaware, 34 MW, Heavy Oil, Combustion Turbine, 31-May-17;
  • Sewaren Units 1-4, PSEG zone, owned by Public Service Enterprise Group, 453 MW, Kerosene, Combustion Turbine, 01-Nov-17;
  • Bayonne Cogen Plant (CC), PSEG zone, 158 MW, Natural gas, Steam, 01-Nov-18;
  • MH50 Marcus Hook Co-gen, PECO zone, owned by NextEra Energy, 50.8 MW, Natural gas, Steam, 13-May-19;
  • Chalk Point Units 1-2, Pepco zone, owned by NRG Energy, 667 MW, Coal, 31-May-19;
  • Dickerson Units 1-3, Pepco zone, owned by NRG Energy, 537 MW, Coal, 31-May-19;
  • Oyster Creek, JCPL zone, owned by Exelon, 614.5 MW, Nuclear, 31-Dec-19;
  • Wagner Unit 2, BGE zone, owned by Talen Energy, 135 MW, Coal, 01-Jun-20;
  • Arnold (Green Mountain) Wind Farm, PENELEC zone, 10.4 MW, Wind, 05-Nov-15
  • Perryman Unit 2, BGE zone, owned by Exelon, 51 MW, Diesel, Combustion Turbine, 01-Jan-16

In the years from 2011 through 2020, the majority (77.5%) of all MW retiring during this period are coal steam units. These units have an average age of 55.9 years and an average size of 164.9 MW. More than half of them, 51.5%, are located in either Ohio or Pennsylvania. Retirements have generally consisted of smaller subcritical coal steam units and those without adequate environmental controls to remain viable beyond 2015.

Said the Exelon website about Oyster Creek: “Oyster Creek began operating in December 1969 as the first large-scale commercial nuclear power plant in the United States. Its single boiling water reactor produces 645 net megawatts (MW), enough electricity to power 600,000 average American homes. We announced in 2010, after an extensive analysis, that Oyster Creek will be retired at the end of 2019. Exelon and our team of dedicated Oyster Creek employees remain committed to operating Oyster Creek safely and reliably for the remainder of its operating life. The plant will achieve 50 years of operation by the date of the plant’s final retirement.”

Notable is that the retirement situation with the coal units at Dickerson and Chalk Point is somewhat dependent on the severity of new NOX-control rules currently being worked on by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). Said NRG Energy in its Nov. 4 Form 10-Q quarterly report: “In December 2014, MDE proposed a regulation regarding NOx emissions from coal-fired electric generating units, which if finalized would have required by 2020 the Company (at each of the three Dickerson coal-fired units and the Chalk Point coal-fired unit that does not have an SCR) to either (1) install and operate an SCR; (2) retire the unit; or (3) convert the fuel source from coal to natural gas. In early 2015, a new gubernatorial administration in Maryland decided not to finalize the regulation as proposed. In September 2015, MDE proposed revised regulations to address future NOx reductions, which when finalized may negatively affect certain of the Company’s coal-fired units in Maryland.” NRG also has coal-fired capacity at the Morgantown plant in Maryland, but that capacity already has installed SCR facilities.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.