Perry’s grid plan a ‘sledgehammer’ — PJM executive

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E News reporter • Posted: Friday, December 1, 2017

An executive for PJM Interconnection LLC — which oversees the grid needs of all or part of 13 states and Washington, D.C. — said today Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s request for new policy to aid coal and nuclear appears to directly target his agency.

Craig Glazer, PJM’s vice president, said Perry’s plan would directly hit grid operators in capacity markets with coal and nuclear, a description that fits PJM to a T.

And yet PJM’s fleet is diverse, and concerns about reliance on gas are greater in other areas, he said.

“We feel like we have a target on our back,” he told a Heritage Foundation event in Washington.

Glazer said DOE’s policy request appropriately focused on reliability issues tied to natural gas pipelines but said that challenge is more prevalent in states like Texas and Florida and regions like New England and the Southeast — and less so in PJM.

Furthermore, Glazer said encouraging the stockpiling of 90 days of coal at a power plant in Ohio isn’t going to solve a reliability issue in New Jersey, calling the language a “sledgehammer” of a remedy.

At issue is Perry’s request that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission seek to reward power plants that have 90 days’ worth of fuel on site. FERC has said it will act on the proposal by Dec. 11.

Glazer also faulted an “interim solution” FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee has said he’s working on to save struggling coal and nuclear units until a long-term solution can be found.

“That will take all the oxygen out of the room. We’ll never get to actual solutions,” Glazer said.

A very different narrative emerged from a separate Heritage Foundation event, where coal magnate Bob Murray doubled down on warnings the lights would go out and grandmothers would “freeze in the dark” if Perry’s policy didn’t survive.

Murray, who’s publicly said he lobbied President Trump and Perry to save at-risk coal plants, said capacity margins are “very thin” and pointed to the need for coal and nuclear units during the 2014 polar vortex.

The coal executive ended his talk with a barb specific to PJM, a region that serves as a major market for Murray’s product.

“PJM, they don’t like it,” Murray said. “They want to take an intermittent windmill in the middle of the night, that’s what they want to price [electricity] off.”