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FirstEnergy Solutions can retire 4,004 MW of fossil generation without reliability impact: PJM

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FirstEnergy Solutions can retire 4,004 MW of fossil generation without reliability impact: PJM

Highlights

30-day reliability analysis completed Friday

Potential reliability impacts to be addressed by grid upgrades

New York — Retirement of FirstEnergy Solutions' 4,004 MW of coal and diesel generating units in Ohio and Pennsylvania by June 2021 and June 2022 will not adversely impact reliability, PJM Interconnection said Monday in revealing the results of a new study.

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PJM completed its 30-day reliability analysis of the units Friday, according to an emailed statement. While the report is not public, it will be discussed at an October 11 Transmission Expansion Advisory Committee meeting and the presentation slides will be posted to the grid operator's website October 8, spokesman Jeff Shields confirmed in an email Monday.

"The planned deactivations can proceed as scheduled without compromising reliability in the PJM transmission grid, according to the study," the statement said. "Any potential reliability impacts will be addressed by a combination of already planned baseline transmission upgrades and the completion of new baseline upgrades."

Akron, Ohio-based FES, formerly a subsidiary of FirstEnergy, has said it will continue normal operations at the facilities until the announced retirement dates. FES announced the power-plant retirements in an August 29 statement.

In March, FES said it would deactivate three nuclear power plants with combined capacity of 4,001 MW between May 2020 and October 2021, which brings the total potential deactivations to roughly 8,000 MW of coal-fired, oil-fired and nuclear generation.

On March 29, FES sent a letter asking Energy Secretary Rick Perry to issue an emergency order directing PJM to take steps to forestall nuclear and coal-fired retirements. Two days later, FES and FENOC, the FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company, and six other subsidiaries filed for bankruptcy.

The Trump administration is considering policy action to prevent the retirement of coal and nuclear plants that have been challenged by historically low wholesale power prices pulled down by abundant low-priced natural gas. These market dynamics have made it more economical over the past few years in multiple US markets to run natural gas-fired plants and other power generation resources than coal oil or nuclear plants.

FUEL SECURITY

"As with nuclear, our fossil-fueled plants face the insurmountable challenge of a market that does not sufficiently value their contribution to the security and flexibility of our power system," Don Moul, president of FES Generation and chief nuclear officer, said in the August statement.

PJM acknowledged the fuel security situation Monday, saying it has a proceeding underway to address it. The grid operator is analyzing the grid's ability to manage extended outages associated with potential fuel disruptions and working to establish, to the extent necessary, criteria by which the value of fuel security can be incorporated into the PJM markets, according to the statement. "These retirements will be incorporated into that study, which we expect to complete within the next few months," PJM said.

DEACTIVATIONS FES plans to close its largest coal-fired facility, Bruce Mansfield Units 1-3, with a combined capacity of 2,490 MW, on June 1, 2021. The largest coal-fired plant in Pennsylvania, the facility is in Shippingport, on the state's western border with Ohio.

The 2,233 MW W.H. Sammis facility, which has seven coal-fired units and five oil-fired peaking units, is 25 miles southwest in Stratton, Ohio, on the Ohio River. It is FES' largest coal-fired plant in Ohio. FES said it will deactivate Units 5-7, with a combined coal-fired capacity of 1,490 MW, on June 1, 2022, and one 13 MW diesel oil unit on June 1, 2021.

In the northern part of Ohio near Cleveland is Eastlake 6, a 24 MW coal-fired unit that FES has said it will deactivate on June 1, 2021.

"FES' announced deactivations are several years into the future, which provides sufficient time for upgrades to be completed," PJM said.

-- Jared Anderson, jared.anderson@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Christopher Newkumet, newsdesk@spglobal.com