PJM, a regional transmission organization for 13 states and the District of Columbia, coordinates the flow of electricity from generators to local utilities across a web of high-voltage transmission lines. Local utilities distribute this power directly to consumers. PJM believes accelerated retirement of legacy generators – like coal and nuclear – means intermittent, limited renewable energy sources must increase sixfold to fill the gap. Retirements are happening faster than expected and at the current course, PJM is not going to have sufficient power to meet the demands of consumers. This could mean skyrocketing costs, rolling blackouts, and restrictions on when we can use electricity.
Implementation of short-sighted environmental policies like the multistate Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), overregulation by state agencies, and reliance on renewable energy sources will only expedite the collapse of the already strained energy grid. Wind and solar are great energy sources, but they are not reliable sources. Renewables are intermittent, limited, and dependent on weather. Baseload generation has to be available at 3 a.m. when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing.
Natural gas, nuclear and coal plants are on-demand energy sources and not dependent on weather or time of day, which are essential for electric reliability. These are the facilities that can provide electricity at 3 a.m. on an extremely cold or extremely hot night. When renewables come online in states with clean energy goals, they are relying on Pennsylvania to make up that difference. Grid stability requires a diverse energy portfolio.
As chairman of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, I have held multiple hearings to review grid reliability. Overwhelmingly, the testimonies stated that a rush to shutter our fossil fuel-fired power plants would directly impact our bulk power supply. Over the summer, we began working with our neighbors in the Ohio General Assembly to discuss PJM and the reliability of the mid-Atlantic power grid, its infrastructure, and to provide an update on the future outlook of the region’s power production.
We’ve held several meetings and most recently, the first of its kind, bipartisan, bicameral joint public hearing on interstate relationships within the PJM grid. The hearing, the first of its kind held by respective committees from the two states, included testimony from PJM, the organization that manages the mid-Atlantic power grid, the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC), and energy industry experts. The panels highlighted significant concerns regarding the resource adequacy projected for the next three to five years. They emphasized how the PJM electric system is interconnected, and actions taken by any one state can have resounding and immediate impacts on neighboring states. These challenges are amplified when generation is retired, and new generation cannot keep pace with what is being retired.
To successfully address the complex reliability challenges emerging as the grid is transformed, the regional entities, and state and federal policymakers will need continued collaboration, coordination, and thoughtful action.
May 1, 2023 – Meeting regarding follow up briefing on Grid Reliability
February 27, 2023 – Joint Public Hearing on Grid Reliability and Winter Storm Elliot Recap
February 5, 2024 – Yaw Introduces Bill to Repeal RGGI Carbon Tax
August 29, 2023 – Senator Yaw Appears on ‘Face the State’
August 24, 2023 – Legislators from Pennsylvania, Ohio Testify Before PJM Board of Managers
July 31, 2023 – Pennsylvania, Ohio Legislators Meet to Discuss Grid Reliability
September 28, 2023 – EPA Further Threatens Grid Reliability
June 14, 2023 – Sen. Gene Yaw: In Homer City, another step in killing the grid
April 5, 2022 – A Pennsylvania and United States Tragedy