PJM’s Preliminary Review Of Christmas Storm Electric Generation Failures Shows Natural Gas Units Failed To Provide Power At Over Triple The Rate Of Other Generation

On January 11, members of the PJM Interconnection, the regional electric grid operator that includes Pennsylvania, reported in a preliminary review of the impact of  Winter Storm Elliott, that natural gas-fired power plants failed to provide power at over triple the rate of other technologies and fossil fuel power plants generally failed at an "unacceptable" level, according to PJM.

"As we called [generation] reserves, a significant portion of [the generation] fleet failed to perform," PJM said in its presentation.

Bloomberg reported 70 percent of the almost 46 GW of outages were natural gas plants.

Forced generation outages during the coldest part of the storm on December 24 found 32,473 MW of natural gas-fired generation off-line, 7,562 MW of coal-fired generation and 5,917 MW of nuclear, oil, wind, solar, according to PJM.

The primary reasons for the outages were plant equipment failure, lack of fuel supply and start/failure and unit trips.

PJM said 92 percent of all outages were reported to them with less than an hour's notice or with no notice at all.

PJM said a major factor was the significant decline in natural gas production in Appalachia (Marcellus and Utica Shales) in Pennsylvania and other states which saw a nearly 30 percent drop in daily production.

Nationwide, PJM said, there was a 20 percent decline in natural gas production.

PJM also mentioned coming penalties on generators for failure to perform when called-- "Power plants have already received payment for promises of reliable service in this year's capacity auction, and the penalties that will come in the wake of this storm will only be a fraction of what they have already received."

Bloomberg reported generators may face up to $2 billion in penalties.


Tom Rutigliano, Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a blog post published on January 9-- "As that day and the next wore on [December 23, 24], power plant after power plant failed. Some couldn’t get fuel, some just stopped working, and still others failed to start when called on.

"By Christmas Eve, an astonishing 46 GW of power plants were out of service [in the PJM region]—that’s enough to power California.

"What did nearly all these plants have in common? They were powered by fossil fuels, mostly gas.

"PJM reported failures across the gas system, including low pressure, frozen compressors, and simply no commercially available fuel. In PJM’s own words, the forced outage rate was “unacceptably high.”

"PJM made it through this storm without instituting blackouts, but it did have to stop exports to neighboring regions, which contributed to Duke Energy’s troubles."

"Once again, we learned that we can’t rely on gas and coal when extreme weather hits. They’re not infallible, and system reliability will continue to suffer if grid operators keep overestimating gas and coal."

On January 11, Rutigliano added, “Increasingly extreme weather events are all but certain to continue, so let’s apply the lessons from this storm and others that came before it to improve the grid and protect customers in PJM territory.”

“History has proven again and again that gas is not as firm as it claims to be, and reliability will continue to suffer until that fact is accepted. PJM must plan accordingly, and reform rules that subsidize fossil fuel power plants by pretending they’re more reliable than they really are.”

“PJM’s year-round capacity market was designed to meet surging demand during the hottest days of the year, but isn’t doing well at meeting winter needs. It should be split into seasonal markets that can focus on each season’s unique challenges.

“FERC [Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] needs to take a serious look at how the industry is preparing for cold weather and find the political will to set binding winterization standards, including on natural gas supply.

“And lastly, PJM and FERC need to fix market structures that reward unreliable power plants.”

Click Here for a copy of PJM's presentation slides.


-- PJM Interconnection: PJM Operated Reliably Throughout Winter Storm Challenges, But ‘Generator Forced Outages Were Unacceptable’

-- Bloomberg: PJM Electric Grid Operator Had 23% Power Plant Failure In December Storm [Natural Gas Plants Accounted For 70% Of Almost 46 GW Of Outages]

-- Utility Dive: PJM Generators Face Up To $2 Billion In Penalties For Failing To Provide Power During Christmas Winter Storm Elliot [Poor Performance By Gas-Fired Generators Could Lead To Political Fallout]

-- Reuters: Grid Operator PJM Probes U.S. Power Supply Woes During December Storm [70% Of Units That Didn’t Supply Power Were Fueled By Natural Gas]

-- UnionProgress.com - Laura Legere: ‘Unacceptable’ Power Plant Failures During Christmas Storm Could Lead To $2 Billion In Penalties

-- Post-Gazette - Anya Litvak: Christmas Holiday Freeze Froze Off Sizable Portion Of Appalachia’s Natural Gas Production Cutting Off Supply To Power Plants When They Needed It Most [Gas Generation Dropped By 22% In PJM]

-- MCall: Bethlehem Natural Gas Power Plant Given Emergency Approval To Keep Running During Frigid Christmas Weekend

PA DEP Public Notice Dashboards:

-- Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Weekly Compliance Dashboard - Jan. 7 to 13  [PaEN]

-- PA Oil & Gas Industrial Facilities: Permit Notices/Opportunities To Comment - Jan. 14  [PaEN]

-- DEP Posted 46 Pages Of Permit-Related Notices In Jan. 14 PA Bulletin  [PaEN]

PA Oil & Gas Industry Compliance Reports:

-- PA Oil & Gas Industry Has Record Year: Cost, Criminal Convictions Up; $3.1 Million In Penalties Collected; Record Number Of Violations Issued; Major Compliance Issues Uncovered; Evidence Of Health Impacts Mounts

-- DEP Report Finds: Conventional Oil & Gas Drillers Routinely Abandon Wells; Fail To Report How Millions Of Gallons Of Waste Is Disposed; And Non-Compliance Is An ‘Acceptable Norm’

Related Articles This Week:

-- DEP Ongoing Explosion/Fire Investigation: Energy Transfer Reported An Uncontrolled Release Of Ethane For 9.5 Hours From Its Revolution Natural Gas Processing Plant In Washington County  [PaEN]

-- Guest Essay: Counties, PEMA Need To Include A Complete Vulnerability Assessment Of All Natural Gas Facilities In State, County Hazard Mitigation Emergency Plans [PaEN]

-- DEP Releases 2 More Bid Solicitations To Plug 38 Abandoned Conventional Gas Wells In Venango County At Taxpayer Expense; Average Cost To Plug $95,000  [PaEN]

-- Ohio River Valley Institute Report Shows Diversified Energy, Owner Of Over 22,500 Conventional Oil & Gas Wells In PA, May Be Financially Insolvent  [PaEN]

-- Fish & Boat Commission Investigation Of Pollution From PA General Energy Natural Gas Development Construction Site On Exceptional Value Loyalsock Creek Results In Settlement Agreement  [PaEN]

-- PJM’s Preliminary Review Of Christmas Storm Electric Generation Failures Shows Natural Gas Units Failed To Provide Power At Over Triple The Rate Of Other Generation  [PaEN]

-- EPA Invites Comments On Draft Oil & Gas Waste Injection Well Permit In Young Twp., Jefferson County; Feb. 13 Virtual Hearing Tentatively Set  [PaEN]

-- Better Path Coalition Outlines Needed Environmental, Climate Policy Changes For Incoming Shapiro Administration  [PaEN]

-- American Petroleum Institute Unveils Plan To Prioritize U.S. Natural Gas And Oil; Target Northeast U.S. For Pipeline Development  [PaEN]

-- EQT, Chesapeake, Equitrans Shale Gas Companies Announce Methane Reduction Initiatives  [PaEN]

-- Groups Host Jan. 17 Webinar On Climate & Health Impacts Of Methane Gas From Oil & Gas Operations  [PaEN]

-- FracTracker Alliance Hosts Jan. 17 Webinar On Exploring Oil & Gas Industrialization Impacts On Watersheds  [PaEN]

-- Bob Donnan’s Blog: Has Anything Changed? - Shalefield Stories, Revisiting Our Fracking Past

[Posted: January 11, 2023]


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