Despite the loss of the B.L. England electric plant as a peak electricity generator, electric grid operator PJM Interconnection is ready to meet demand this summer, the organization announced Thursday.
B.L. England, the state's last coal fired electric plant, closed for good Wednesday. It had operated as a peak electricity provider for several years, producing electricity only on highest use days.
PJM is required to have a reserve of 16 percent of forecasted demand level, and this summer PJM’s expected reserve margin is more than 28 percent, or around 40,000 MW, according to PJM.
One megawatt can power about 800 homes.
Planners expect electricity use to peak at around 151,000 MW this summer, according to PJM, which said the National Weather Service is forecasting hotter-than-normal temperatures for almost the entire PJM footprint. It extends from the Mid-Atlantic states to parts of the South and Midwest.
PJM has 183,454 MW of installed generating capacity available. In 2019, it also has more than 8,000 MW of demand response for peak usage times. Demand response pays customers to reduce their electricity use in times of system stress.
PJM runs the grid that covers 13 states, including New Jersey, and the District of Columbia. The area is home to 65 million people.
“The summer is when we see our highest electricity use, and we plan and prepare for summer operations throughout the year,” said Andrew L. Ott, PJM president and CEO. “With proper forecasting, experienced operators and healthy reserves, we are confident we will meet the level of demand.”
Last summer’s peak demand was 150,830 MW, which occurred on August 28. PJM’s all-time highest power use was 165,563 MW in the summer of 2006.
PJM coordinates and directs delivery of electricity over 84,042 miles of transmission lines; runs a competitive wholesale electricity market; and plans regional improvements for grid reliability and efficiency.
R.C. Cape May Holdings, the owners of B.L. England, had planned to convert it to a natural gas plant, but were stymied by opposition to South Jersey Gas building a new gas transmission pipeline to it.
Environmentalists objected to plans to build it along roadsides through about 10 miles of protected Pinelands forest, and had sued to stop its construction.
R.C. Cape May announced earlier this year it decided not to repower it with natural gas and would close it instead. It may become a base for the offshore wind company Orsted, which is interested in hooking into the grid at the site, if it wins taxpayer subsidies to build its wind farm. The Board of Public Utilities is expected to decide which firm will win those subsidies by July.