COLUMBUS, OH – Members of the Pennsylvania Senate and the Ohio General Assembly met in Columbus today for a hearing on energy reliability, sustainability, and affordability, according to Pennsylvania Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee chairman, Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23).
The hearing consisted of two panels, one that focused on state and national energy impacts and another that focused on consumer and generational impacts. Legislators heard testimony from PJM, the organization that manages the mid-Atlantic power grid consisting of 13 states and the District of Columbia, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, Ohio Chamber of Commerce, and other energy industry experts.
“Grid stability requires a diverse energy portfolio and actions taken by any one state can have resounding and immediate impacts on neighboring states,” Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23) said. “I’m thankful to our neighbors in Ohio for recognizing the urgency of this issue and joining with me to proactively protect our region’s families and businesses from catastrophic rolling blackouts and skyrocketing costs.”
“These hearings are intended to elevate the urgency of lost generation through the early forced retirement of our existing fossil fuel fleet and the rapidly growing need for additional, affordable generation,” Ohio Rep. Dick Stein (R-54), chairman of the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee, said. “I hope that together, government at all levels will work to solve this upcoming crisis to avoid a life-threatening catastrophic failure to our grid.”
PJM projects that 20% of its existing capacity will retire between now and 2030. Previously, officials testified that at the current course, PJM is not going to have sufficient power to meet the demands of consumers. The legislators agree this will likely result in increased prices, risks of blackouts, and restrictions on when and how we can use electricity.
“None of us want to deal with restrictions on when and how we can use electricity in our own homes, or worse, be subjected to rolling blackouts,” said Pennsylvania Senate Majority Whip Ryan Aument (R-36). “But with demand for energy consumption increasing and supply decreasing as we prematurely retire power plants our grid needs to meet that demand, those consequences could become reality in ten years or less. We must work together with our counterparts in Ohio to address the reliability and affordability of our energy grid so that our constituents can have uninterrupted and unrestricted access to power in their homes and businesses.”
“It has been reported again and again that much of our nation’s energy grid is at risk of dangerous outages in the event of a simple winter storm,” Pennsylvania Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-21) said. “Some would like you to believe this is because of ‘climate change.’ In reality, energy consumption is at an ever-increasing high, investment in grid infrastructure has lagged, and we’re not utilizing the efficient energy resources available to us.”
Industry representatives agreed that as two of the greatest producers of power in the PJM footprint, both Pennsylvania and Ohio will play a key role in ensuring continued reliability during energy transition.
“Pennsylvania and Ohio should be applauded for their collective work to address regional reliability issues in PJM,” Glen Thomas, president of GT Power Group, said. “Recent orders from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) show that the concerns of these two states which make up the lion’s share of the power production and consumption in PJM are being heard. It is important that Pennsylvania and Ohio maintain their vigilance and engagement on these issues so effective, market-based solutions to the looming reliability challenges can be put be in place.”
In August, Yaw and Stein were among testifiers at a meeting of PJM’s Board of Managers after the organization implemented their Critical Issue Fast Path (CIFP) process, an accelerated process used to address key capacity market areas that directly benefit grid reliability. During the meeting, resource adequacy proposals were presented and discussed with the PJM Board, followed by public comments, a Board meeting and vote, and a filing with FERC.
Earlier this week, FERC approved the first of the capacity market reform filings from PJM which are, in part, the product of the legislators’ August testimony. These changes are designed to ensure PJM is properly evaluating reliability risks and adequately accrediting capacity resources to meet peak demand. During today’s hearing, Yaw noted this is a positive sign from both PJM and FERC that Pennsylvania and Ohio are being heard.
“We had an opportunity to work collectively and go to PJM and make our thoughts and concerns known,” Sen. Yaw said. “There is more work to be done, but we’ve made an impact. That is an accomplishment.”
Legislators from both states agreed that to successfully address the complex reliability challenges emerging as the grid is transformed, the regional entities, and state and federal policymakers will need continued collaboration, coordination, and thoughtful action.
“As Pennsylvania and Ohio are key energy exporters, it’s paramount that we have these partnerships to ensure reliable, cost-effective energy exists with the capacity and infrastructure to maintain it well into the future,” Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Stefano (R-32) said.
Today’s hearing was the second of two to take place between the legislatures, the first being held in Pittsburgh this past November and focusing on interstate relationships within the PJM Grid.
For more state-related news and information, constituents can visit Senator Yaw’s website at www.SenatorGeneYaw.com or follow him on Facebook and Twitter @SenatorGeneYaw.