By Carol Frazier
I’m sure glad I don’t have to rely on the mainstream media for all my news. I recently learned through other media that the Brandon Shores coal fired power plant outside of Baltimore is scheduled to shut down and close in 2025. I guess that wouldn’t be a problem if the needed improvements to the power grid were going to be completed by then. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
The power grid operator - PJM Interconnection - which coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of 13 states and District of Columbia, serving 65 million customers - said the shutdown of the Brandon Shores plant will disrupt the reliability of the region’s grid, as the grid operator would need to divert electricity generated elsewhere, but transmission upgrades in Maryland aren’t expected to be finished until 2028. That “region” includes Baltimore and the immediate surrounding areas. How long before it affects the rest of the state? Asking for a friend.
The decision to close Brandon Shores and two other plants was the result of a 2020 agreement between the plant operator, Talen Energy, and the Sierra Club, which aims to avoid future litigation or permit disputes related to coal at Talen’s “transitioning sites”. Hmmm - do what we want and we won’t sue.
Both PJM and Talen have confirmed they are currently engaged in negotiation with the Sierra Club and Maryland state officials to find a solution. “We are always mindful of regional electric system reliability and how it relates to electricity consumers in Maryland”, said Maryland Public Service Commission spokesperson Tori Leonard in a statement. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is now involved and has greenlighted PJM’s nearly 800-million-dollar emergency plan for transmission upgrades to blunt the Brandon Shores closures. The FERC Commissioner said on November 8th the shutdown could cause “severe voltage collapse in Baltimore and the surrounding zones, including Northern Virginia, the District of Columbia, Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania,” adding such a scenario would be “potentially catastrophic”.
I think this might be a good time to write to Governor Moore and Senators Cardin and Van Hollen to voice our concerns. We should also let Rep. Andy Harris and our State delegation - Senator Carozza, and Delegates Hartman and Otto, know about any concerns we have.
"A major U.S. power grid operator is warning that the upcoming closure of a Baltimore area coal plant threatens to decrease key electricity supplies across the mid-Atlantic region." Fox Business News picked up the story: https://www.foxbusiness.com/politics/grid-operator-sounds-alarm-coal-plant-shutdown-threatens-power-millions