PJM finds FirstEnergy nuclear plants can retire without threatening reliability

Though the impending deactivation of First Energy’s four nuclear units will remove 4,048 MW of capacity, PJM Interconnection has concluded the move will not adversely affect the relability of its system.

However, in its recent reliability study PJM will need to carry out an unspecified “combination of remedial measures” to prevent strains on transformers and transmission lines.

Don Moul, president of FES Generation Companies and chief nuclear officer, said he was surprised but disappointed.

“The results of the PJM reliability study highlight that their review ignores the value that these units offer the grid in terms of fuel diversity and zero-carbon emissions generation. The 4,048 megawatts of capacity that these plants provide amounts to 14 percent of Ohio’s overall generation capacity and 7 percent of Pennsylvania’s overall generation capacity. That gap will have to be filled overwhelmingly by carbon-fueled generation.”

However, PJM itself said that the system could remain reliable with the addition of more natural gas and renewable resources, though heavy reliance on one resource type raises potential resilience risks.

PJM will now analyze fuel security vulnerabilities and establish criteria to assess areas in the system that could face future fuel security issues, including identifying attributes such as on-site fuel requirements, dual-fuel capability or others that ensure that peak demands can be met during extreme scenarios.

FirstEnergy Solutions, the operations arm of FirstEnergy, filed closure notices for its four nuclear units with the NRC immediately before filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy. FirstEnergy itself is not part of the bankruptcy.