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Summer Electric Demand to be Met This Year

As the temperatures rise in the coming months, so will the demand for electricity to meet cooling needs. PJM Interconnection, the regional transmission organization (RTO) that manages the electric grid for most of Pennsylvania, said that it expects to meet that summer demand, but expressed concerns about extreme weather events.

PJM recently released its annual Summer Outlook for the northeast region, concluding that while demand will be met this year, there are concerns about coming years. “We plan throughout the year to make sure we have enough resources to serve load at the hottest time of the year, said PHM President Manu Asthana in a release. “But we are concerned that new generation is not coming online fast enough to replace retiring resources, and that subsequent years may be more challenging.”

PJM Interconnection is the largest of 10 regional transmission organizations in the United States. RTOs are independent, non-profit organizations that coordinate the wholesale purchase, supply and demand of electricity, as well as administer and maintain the regional electric grid.

Currently, 60 percent of the United States’ electricity is managed by an RTO. Nearly all of Pennsylvania is serviced by PJM Interconnection, along with 12 other states and Washington, D.C. PJM’s operational headquarters is located in the Philadelphia region, where teams constantly monitor all aspects of the electricity market.

PJM is experiencing what it forecast in a 2023 report – loss of generation resources that is larger than the addition of replacement generators at the same time that electric demand is accelerating. This trend is being experienced throughout the country, according to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation.

With the National Weather Service predicting above-average temperatures this summer in the region, PJM is predicting higher peak electric demand of about 151,000 megawatts (MW) compared to 147,000 MW in 2023. One MW can power about 800 homes.

However, because PJM has about 4,000 MW less of generating capacity available now than in 2023, the lower reserve capacity could require it to take action in the event of an extreme weather event, such as a heat wave. If a severe storm knocked out generating capacity, the reserve capacity would be strained further.

“In these unlikely but possible set of circumstances, PJM might have to implement additional procedures to manage emergencies, including demand response, calls for conservation, limits on electricity exports, or even temporary service interruptions,” the outlook states.

Grid operators around the country, as well as government regulators, are focusing on expanding and adding electrical capacity and making infrastructure better able to withstand unpredictable severe weather events at a time when electric demand is expected to continue to grow in order to prevent rolling blackouts or more severe outages.

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