Wednesday, February 14, 2018

More on coal-fired electricity generation

During that cold snap a few weeks ago, the electric grid in the upper part of the Ohio Valley and elsewhere relied strongly on coal-fired generation to meet demand. But what about now that the weather is milder? Where is the power coming from?

A few days ago I tracked usage and generation in the PJM Interconnection territory. PJM, for those who are unfamiliar with wholesale electric markets, is the regional transmission organization that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia, most of eastern Kentucky and small parts of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina and Tennessee.

PJM operates a competitive wholesale electricity market and manages the high-voltage electricity grid to ensure reliability for more than 65 million people.

So with demand at more normal levels, what role did coal play in the region’s power generation mix? Throughout the day on Monday, Feb. 12, coal’s share of the load ranged from about 30 percent of generation to 32 percent. That put it ahead of natural gas but behind nuclear power.

I haven’t done an overnight tracking, but from few times I checked the data, coal’s share fell during the night hours and gas’s share increased.

Renewables play a small part in the PJM area generation mix.

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