In its press release announcing the outcome of its 2015-16 electricity capacity auction, PJM says: "PJM is effectively, efficiently, and reliably handling a massive shift from coal to gas." No hyperbole there. See
PJM reports that 14,000 megawatts of coal generation will retire and that will cut the coal fleet within the PJM region from about 75,000 megawatts to 61,000 megawatts. So are the lights in the PJM power pool that serves 60 million people in danger of going out?
No. And here is why.
PJM also reports that it procured a record amount of new generation--4,900 megawatts--for 2015 to 2016. Most of the new plant is natural gas. This record underlines the point that every year some plants retire and some new plants begin operation. The market is dynamic and focusing on just retirements, as Congressional Republicans attacking the EPA do, creates a false impression.
Another major protection of reliability is on the demand side of the market. PJM reports 14,833 megawatts of demand response and energy efficiency cleared the 2015-16 capacity auction, or more than the total coal plant retirements. Demand response clearing the market was up 5% and energy efficiency 12%.
PJM can dispatch over 185,000 megawatts of generation. It's all time peak was 163,760 megawatts and it forecasts a 153,000 megawatt peak this summer. PJM expects load growth of 1.2% between 2011 and 2012.