Ohio coal-fired power plant retirement made up for with transmission upgrades

American Transmission System Inc. ATSI PJM Interconnection Ohio FirstEnergy coal-fired power plant retirements transmission

Although a total of 1,400 MW of coal-fired power plants were retired in the American Transmission System Inc. (ATSI) load zone in the northern Ohio part of PJM Interconnection’s system, the regional grid operator is compensating for the generation loss by upgrading its transmission system.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the operator is upgrading its transmission system to increase the use of existing electric generating outside the ATSI zone, a plan that may be more cost effective than building new plants in highly-populated areas that require significant backup power in reserve.

The ATSI region will face a 21 percent drop in capacity after companies owned by FirstEnergy (NYSE: FE) announced the retirement of 1,400 MW of coal-fired capacity in 2012, and another 885 MW in 2015, the EIA stated. The rest of PJM will remain “relatively well-supplied,” allowing the company to make the transmission upgrades and take advantage of the higher reserve margin elsewhere in the system rather than build new power plants.

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