Power grid manager PJM to Energy Department: There is no emergency
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Power grid manager PJM Interconnection on Friday urged the U.S. Department of Energy not to take extraordinary action ordering subsidies to keep uncompetitive coal and nuclear power plants operating.
FirstEnergy’s power plant subsidiary, FirstEnergy Solutions (FES), asked the DOE for the action on Thursday morning, about 18 hours after informing PJM and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that it would close its three nuclear power plants within three years.
The Akron-based company relied on a rarely used clause in the Federal Power Act authorizing the DOE to take extraordinary action to keep power plants running — and the grid stable — during extreme emergencies such as an act of war.
PJM Interconnection is the federally approved manager of the high-voltage electric grid and wholesale power markets in Ohio, 12 other states and Washington, D.C.
“PJM can state without reservation there is no immediate threat to system reliability,” wrote Vincent Duane, senior vice president and general counsel. “Indeed, the FES units that announced their expected retirement earlier this week, by their own disclosures, will remain operational in most cases until through May 2021.”
FirstEnergy Solutions, which is expected to file for bankruptcy protection from creditors by Monday, told PJM in writing that it plans to close its Davis-Besse nuclear plant near Toledo in 2020 and both the Perry nuclear plant in Lake County and the two-reactor Beaver Valley plant near Pittsburgh in 2021.
The company said it informed the NRC orally, but the agency will not recognize the company’s intentions until it files a written notice, said an NRC spokeswoman.
In the letter to Energy Secretary Perry, Duane wrote that future power plant closings do not constitute the kind of emergency that the framers of the Federal Power Act had in mind.
And he noted that PJM will do a formal analysis of the grid impact of the planned closings of the FirstEnergy reactors in the next 30 days, using an analytical procedure approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.