Just a couple of months ago, PJM Interconnection issued a grid warning due to the accelerated shutdowns of multiple fossil fuel power plants while replacement power in the form of renewables (wind and solar) is slow to come online. In the article here we pointed out how PJM was shutting down 3 GW (gigawatts) of power in Ohio without anything to replace it. Now, in addition to those, it was announced that the largest coal fired power plant in Pennsylvania, the 2 GW Homer City Generating Station, will begin the shutdown process on July 1st. Combined with the shutdowns in Ohio, that’s a total of 5 GW of power taken offline in the PJM grid, just this year, with nothing to replace it! The power problems in North East over the last couple of days seem to be an issue with a local substation not the grid itself, but it’s indicative of much bigger issues you’ll be seeing soon.
Reducing our grid reliability while others do the opposite
Legislators say shutdowns here are justified because of climate change, everything we can do avert catastrophe at some undetermined future date is necessary to save the planet, but China doesn’t seem concerned because they are adding coal fired plants to their grid at a breakneck pace.
China approved the construction of another 106 gigawatts of coal-fired power capacity last year, four times higher than a year earlier and the highest since 2015, driven by energy security considerations
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
Following efforts by former Governor Wolf, PA Governor Shapiro seems ready to join RGGI, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a plan to add carbon taxes to power generation, raising your costs while making fossil fuel plants economically impossible to operate.
Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard
Pennsylvania also has something called the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard which requires a steadily increasing percentage of the electricity provided by power companies to come from renewable energy, so whether it adds to or subtracts from grid reliability or whether power companies want to use it doesn’t matter, the legislators require it, add intermittent renewable power in place of reliable fossil fuel power.
You may be wondering, if we’re shutting down power plants at this rate, why is the government pushing electric cars which will substantially increase the demand for electricity? A less reliable grid and rapidly increasing costs for electricity would seem to indicate electric vehicles are a poor choice for both individuals and businesses. I guess the magic words, climate change, justify and explain everything.
What can you do?
Unfortunately, so much of this is already in motion it’s difficult to do anything in the near term that will fix it. Contacting our legislators at the state level, Senator Laughlin and Representative Banta and asking them to vote against further shutdowns of fossil fuel plants or any legislation promoting renewables over reliable baseload power like coal, gas and nuclear could help. In the meantime, have a home generator ready, you’re going to need it.