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Power Grid Can Handle Upcoming Summer Despite Plant Retirements, Operator Says

Power lines on a local street. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Power lines on a local street. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

The operator of the massive, 13 state power grid that includes New Jersey said Tuesday that its 177,650 megawatt power capacity is enough to handle all the energy that will be required for the upcoming summer season.

Demand in the region, grid operator PJM Interconnection said, will be 155,279 megawatts at its peak this summer. That figure leaves PJM’s reserve margin at about 21 percent, which is above the 15.6 percent required margin. The amount of installed generation is slightly less than last year because of a number of power plant retirements.

Each plant – regardless of its owner – generates a certain number of megawatts which flow the overall power grid. The Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in Lacey Township, for example, adds 636 megawatts of capacity to the grid. That plant is scheduled to be shut down in 2019.

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The highest peak use of power in PJM’s history was 165,492 MW in July 2011.

“We expect to have sufficient power to keep air conditioners and all electrical devices running this summer,” said Michael J. Kormos, executive vice president of operations. “Summer can be the real test of our system because of heavy use of air conditioning across the 13-state region. This is why we work year-round to ensure that power resources are in place to meet consumer demand.”

Since the summer of 2014, PJM made various transmission enhancements to the bulk power system, including adding new 230-kilovolt and 138-kilovolt transmission lines, converting an existing transmission line from 138 kilovolt to 230 kilovolt, and upgrading transformers. In addition, PJM is retrofitting approximately 20 transmission lines with higher-rated transmission conductors.

The recent completion of the Susquehanna-Roseland 500-kilovolt transmission line between Pennsylvania and New Jersey is also expected to relieve congestion on the system this summer, a statement from PJM said.

PJM also expects to have about 8,500 megawatts of demand response and energy efficiency available. Demand response is a program of committed customers who are willing to interrupt or reduce their electricity use in the event of a system emergency.