Power grid operator bashes utility’s plea for Rick Perry to save coal, nuclear plants
The grid operator that run’s America’s largest power market denounced a request from utility First Energy Thursday for an emergency order to save nuclear and coal power plants across the Midwest.
“This is not an issue of reliability,” PJM Interconnection said. “There is no immediate emergency. Diversity of the fuel supply is important, but the PJM system has adequate power supplies and healthy reserves in operation today, and resources are more diverse than they have ever been. Nothing we have seen to date indicates that an emergency would result from the generator retirements.”
First Energy on Thursday requested the Energy Department approve an emergency order under section 202 of the Federal Power Act, which gives Energy Secretary Rick Perry the authority to direct the “temporary” continued use of power plants in circumstances that include war, energy shortages, or sudden surges in demand.
The utility filed its request after announcing Wednesday that it would close three nuclear power plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania over the next four years.
First Energy says the grid is threatened because of the retirement of coal and nuclear power plants that have many years of useful life “but cannot operate profitably under current market conditions.”
The American Petroleum Institute, the largest lobbying group for the oil and natural gas industries, also slammed the request.
“FirstEnergy needs to stop misleading the public and government officials about the status of its power plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania,” it said. “FirstEnergy’s latest attempt to spread a false narrative surrounding the reliability of the electric grid is nothing more than a ruse that will force Main Street consumers to pay higher prices.”
The company wants the Energy Department to force PJM, the federally overseen grid operator, to enter into contracts with coal and nuclear plants across the PJM region to provide electricity “as needed to maintain the stability of the electric grid.”