Clean Power Plan no problem for the Northeast

While the Clean Power Plan (CPP) works its way through the court system, many states and grid operators continue to evaluate compliance solutions and electricity system effects.

The PJM Interconnection, grid operator for 13 northeast states and Washington, D.C., recently released a report with some encouraging news: meeting the CPP should be a breeze.

That’s a big deal, because as Vox’s Dave Roberts explains, “It is one of the more densely populated and economically vibrant regions of the country, so the performance of its electricity system matters.”

Roberts also highlights some of the report’s key findings, noting:

  • In every compliance pathway, resource adequacy (i.e., reliability) is maintained.
  • In every compliance pathway, grid congestion decreases — an improvement over baseline.
  • Depending on the compliance pathway, wholesale electricity prices rise between 1.1 and 3.3 percent. (That is tiny. Prices swing by more than that based on weather, natural gas prices, macroeconomic trends, and much more).

PJM’s findings come just as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory released a study showing the Northeast could generate 30 percent of its electricity with renewables within 10 years using today’s tools, no technological advances or breakthroughs required.

As the biggest, fastest, cheapest way to cut carbon pollution, wind power will play a large role in helping the Northeast and PJM meet the CPP’s targets. As we noted earlier this year, analyses from the Rhodium Group, Energy Information Administration and others have found that “wind accounted for the majority of the lowest-cost compliance solutions for the CPP,” and that wind is a “no-regrets compliance options that provided significant savings in all scenarios, even one with low natural gas prices.”

Wind energy is able to deliver this affordable solution because its costs fell by two-thirds over a six-year period, making it the cheapest source of new electric generating capacity in many parts of the country, and cost-competitive in many more. Technological advances mean wind turbines can now access stronger, steadier winds, making it financially viable in more parts of the U.S.

So customers across the Northeast can rest easy knowing clean, affordable wind power can generate a much greater share of their electricity under business-as-usual, nothing-to-see-here conditions. And isn’t that just what you want when you flip a light switch?

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