PJM fields Dec. 1 requests to shut two coal units and one nuclear plant

PJM is looking at the grid reliability impacts of these planned shutdowns

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PJM Interconnection in a Dec. 4 list of pending power plant deactivations, said it got Dec. 1 requests for the deactivation of two coal units and the Oyster Creek nuclear facility.

As usual, PJM didn't name the companies making these requests, but those names can be figured out.

One Dec. 1 request covered the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station, at 607.7 MW, located in the Jersey Central Power & Light (JCPL) region. PJM said this facility is 46 years old, with a request to deactivate as of Dec. 31, 2019. PJM said about the request: "Reliability analysis underway."

Exelon Generation, the Exelon Corp. (NYSE: EXC) unit that is the licensee for the Oyster Creek station, has previously indicated that it is planning to shut down this facility in 2019. Exelon Corp. said Aug. 24 that three of its nuclear plants - Oyster Creek, Quad Cities and Three Mile Island - did not clear the PJM capacity auction for the 2018-2019 planning year.

Another Dec. 1 request covered Avon Lake Unit 7 in Ohio, rated at 94.6 MW. The requested deactivation date is April 16, 2016, which, by the way, is the compliance date under any one-year extension of the EPA's MATS rule. Said PJM about this shutdown: "Reliability analysis underway."

NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG) had said in September that it now plans to keep operating its Avon Lake power plant in Ohio on coal for the near-term, instead of switching it to natural gas. NRG spokesman David Gaier told Generation Hub in a Sept. 23 interview that the coal-fired Unit 7 will be switched to auxiliary boiler service, so it would rarely run. But the coal-fired Unit 9 (638 MW) will remain on coal, though possibly different types of coal to help the company achieve clean-air compliance.

The third Dec. 1 deactivation request to PJM covered Will County Unit 4 in Illinois, sized at 510 MW. The requested deactivation date is May 31, 2018. PJM again wrote: "Reliability analysis underway."

PJM had already reported earlier this year that NRG Energy's Will County Unit 3 (251 MW) was deactivated on April 15. Said NRG in its Feb. 27 annual Form 10-K about coal plant compliance planning: "NRG plans to add natural gas capabilities at its Avon Lake, New Castle, Shawville, Joliet, Dunkirk, and Big Cajun II facilities and intends to convert the coal units at Portland to ultra-low sulfur diesel in 2016. NRG ceased burning coal at Portland in 2014 and plans to cease burning coal at Will County Unit 3 in 2015."

NRG said in its Nov. 4 Form-Q report related to total coal-fired generation: "Coal generation portfolio does not include 251 MW related to Will County, which was retired April 15, 2015; and 597 MW related to Shawville, which was mothballed on May 31, 2015."

Barry Cassell
About the Author

Barry Cassell

Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 26 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.

Barry can be reached at barryc@pennwell.com.

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