Green Groups Challenge PJM’s Capacity Performance Rules
The “polar vortex” storm of January 2014 blew in big changes to PJM Interconnection’s operations. But these changes are now the subject of a lawsuit filed by environmental groups, alleging they discriminate against clean energy sources.
The sub-zero temperatures froze coal piles and gearboxes. Natural gas plants, lacking firm contracts for fuel delivery, were unable to get fuel as demand for heating soared. And a number of old, little-used power plants were receiving capacity payments despite their inability to start up on short notice.
In response, PJM developed new, tighter rules for the “base residual auction,” their method of securing new capacity from power plants and demand-side resources. New “Capacity Performance” rules were adopted in late 2014, approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in 2015, and were phased into the past two annual auctions for future capacity. PJM anticipates completing the move to Capacity Performance next year.
But this week, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Sierra Club, and Union of Concerned Scientists filed a lawsuit, saying the “new rules are unnecessarily costly and discriminatory” against clean energy sources.
They “will funnel billions of dollars from electricity consumers to fossil and nuclear power plants while severely limiting clean energy participation in PJM’s capacity market,” according to NRDC’s Jennifer Chen.