PJM says FirstEnergy plant closures don’t threaten reliability

An assessment by the PJM Interconnection clears the way for FirstEnergy Solutions to close 4,017 megawatts of coal and diesel generation in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

PJM on Sept. 28 found that that the three coal-fired plants and the single diesel unit could close without compromising reliability. The grid operator said that any potential reliability impacts would be addressed by a combination of already planned baseline transmission upgrades and the completion of new baseline upgrades.

FES announced the power plant retirements on Aug. 29. The closing facilities are Units 1-3 of the 2,490 MW Bruce Mansfield plant in Shippingport, Pennsylvania, the 24 MW Eastlake 6 unit in Ohio, and a 13 MW diesel plant that is part of the W.H. Sammis station near Stratton, Ohio. Those units are scheduled to close June 1, 2021. On June 11, 2022, FES plans to shut Units 5-7, totaling 1,490 MW, of its W.H. Sammis plant.

FES is also closing nearly 4,000 MW of nuclear capacity in Ohio, namely, its 896 MW Davis Besse plant, 1,247 MW Perry plant and 1,811 MW Beaver Creek station. PJM in April said those plants could close without hurting the reliability of PJM’s grid.

In late March, FES asked Energy Secretary Rick Perry to issue an emergency order directing PJM to immediately begin negotiations to secure the long-term capacity of certain nuclear and coal-fired plants in the region and to compensate their owners "for the full benefits they provide to energy markets and the public at large, including fuel security and diversity.”

In April, the American Public Power Association urged the DOE to reject the request. Such a request is unjustified, the Association said in its April 9 submittal to the DOE. FES has neither demonstrated the existence of an emergency that would support action by Perry under Federal Power Act section 202(c), nor shown that its requested relief is reasonable, the public power group argued.

PJM said it is analyzing the ability of its grid to manage extended outages associated with potential fuel disruptions and to establish criteria by which the value of fuel security can be incorporated into the PJM markets. The grid operator said the FES retirements would be incorporated into that study, which is due to be completed in the next few months.

“The PJM system has adequate power supplies and healthy reserves in operation today, and resources are more diverse than they have ever been,” the grid operator said in a statement announcing the results of its reliability assessment.