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PJM retirements expected near 4,200 MW for 2019; generation additions to total 15,000 MW

Highlights

2,947 MW coal closures expected

9,484 MW natural gas additions planned

Houston — PJM Interconnection power generation retirements are expected to reach nearly 4,200 MW this year, mostly from coal-fired generation, while more than 15,000 MW is planned to be added to the footprint, mostly from natural gas-fired generation, according to grid operator data.

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The 4,185 MW expected to be retired across the PJM footprint in 2019 would be a 25% drop in retirements compared to last year, but up 32% from what is planned to be retired in 2020, according to PJM data. Retirements are expected to ease in coming years, with 3,162 MW currently slated for 2020 and 3,925 MW for 2021, mostly from coal and nuclear generation.

The majority of the deactivations this year are expected to come from coal generation with 2,947 MW, of which about 1,660 MW was retired in early February when two units at the Bruce Mansfield plant in Pennsylvania shut down. Akron, Ohio-based FES announced in August the closure of Mansfield, the state's largest coal-fired facility. Mansfield-1 was 42 years old, while Mansfield-2 was 41 years old. The 38-year-old 830-MW Mansfield-3 is slated for retirement in June 2021, according to PJM data. Mansfield operating and maintenance costs have increased in recent years, from $27.76/MWh in 2016 to $34.29/MWh in 2018, while fuel costs at the plant have risen from $18.74/MWh to $20.29/MWh over the same time, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

The remaining coal retirements planned for 2019 include the 165-MW Yorktown-2 and the 159-MW Yorktown-1 in Virginia slated for early March, and the 405-MW Conesville-5 and the 405-MW Conesville-6 in Ohio expected to shut in early June, according to PJM data. The Yorktown units are more than 50 years old, while the Conesville units are more than 40 years old.

Even so, coal retirements in PJM are down about 10% year on year.

Other retirements in PJM this year are expected to come from 803 MW of nuclear and 354 MW of natural gas.

Exelon plans to retire its 803-MW Three Mile Island plant, 43 years old and located in Pennsylvania, in late September.

For natural gas plant closures, Southeast Chicago gas in Illinois has several units listed for retirement in early December, totaling 304 MW, while the 50-MW Marcus Hook plant is expected to be deactivated in early June, according to PJM.

Texan Eastern M-3 spot gas prices have ranged from $2.460/MMBtu to $9.170/MMBtu so far this year, averaging $3.579/MMBtu, down 57% from the same time last year, according to S&P Global Platts data.

PJM West Hub on-peak day-ahead power prices have ranged from $22.62/MWh to $89.43/MWh year to date, averaging $32.16/MWh, down 41% from the same period a year ago, according to Platts data.

When it comes to additions, PJM has 15,249 MW listed as in service, active, partially in service, in engineering or procurement, or under construction for this year, which is up 82% from the amount of MW that came online in 2018, according to PJM data. The majority of additions are to come from natural gas generation with 9,484 MW expected to be added to the PJM grid in 2019, mostly in Pennsylvania, an increase of 28% year on year. Of that amount, 152 MW has already been added to the grid so far this year.

There is also 5,076 MW of solar generation expected to be added in 2019, mostly in Virginia, up significantly from 254 MW of solar added in 2018.

Wind generation additions are slated at 324 MW in 2019, mostly in Illinois.

-- Kassia Micek, kassia.micek@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Gail Roberts, newsdesk@spglobal.com