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Electrical Power Shortfall Likely, Grid Operator Warns

The largest electrical grid operator in the U.S. says it may soon face an electric-generating capacity shortfall as utilities retire increasing numbers of traditional power plants, according to the Washington Examiner.

What’s going on: “PJM Interconnection, which manages grid operations across 13 states and the District of Columbia, published new analysis Friday showing retirements outpacing new additions in the coming years that could leave its service area short of thousands of megawatts of capacity by 2030.”

Why it’s important: Almost 40 gigawatts of the operator’s generating capacity is set to retire by the end of the decade. That’s the amount of energy required to power approximately 30 million homes.

  • “‘Retirements are at risk of outpacing the construction of new resources, due to a combination of industry forces, including siting and supply chain, whose long-term impacts are not fully known,’ [PJM] said in its report.”

Cause and effect: With a goal of getting the U.S. to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035, the Biden administration has pushed for the rapid phaseout of traditional-energy power plants. But that has not been without repercussions, something the North American Electric Reliability Corporation has warned about repeatedly.

  • During winter storm Elliott in December, several utilities were forced to “implement controlled outages” at peak demand times in order to manage supply.
  • “Retiring [traditional-energy] resources without having replacements in order further threatens grid reliability, NERC has said.”

In related news: The huge volume of clean energy projects in the U.S. is overwhelming the outdated systems in place to connect new electricity sources to homes and businesses, according to The New York Times (subscription).

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