Electric grid operator questions reliability amid shift to gas-powered generation
The world’s largest wholesale electricity market, which includes Pennsylvania, gets its power from a half dozen fuel sources, but its operator asks now whether growing dependence on natural gas fuel could weaken reliability.
Natural gas-generated power produces about one-third of the grid’s needs.
It’s a flexible fuel source that’s more efficient and easy to ramp up or down quickly. Models by PJM Interconnection, the company that manages the 13-state grid, show natural gas meeting up to 86 percent of consumer needs and expressed confidence in it as a reliable fuel — as long as the supply holds up.
“While we don’t see, based on our reliability metrics, any day-to-day issues with reliability — have we now put too much reliance on one fuel type or one or two technology types?” said Mike Bryson, vice president of operations for PJM.
In a 44-page report, “PJM’s Evolving Resource Mix and System Reliability” published Thursday, the grid operator presents a wide number of generator mix scenarios that could meet consumer demand — and potential reliability gaps — for its network of 1,300 power generators that serve 65 million people.