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Environment & Energy

Lawmakers Concerned About Power Plant Warning

When the Hatfield’s Ferry and Mitchell power plants were closed last fall, PJM officials assured customers and legislators that the power grid’s reliability would not be affected.

However, many southwestern Pennsylvania customers were asked to limit power consumption when temperatures reached a record low last week.

Now state Sen. Tim Solobay (D-Washington) and state Rep. Pam Snyder (D - Fayette) have written a letter to PJM officials and the Public Utility Commission expressing concern — and frustration — about the warnings.

“But low and behold, the first extreme cold spell we had here during this winter less than three months from their comments, we get a notification from PJM through the PUC that we need people to conserve power in Southwestern Pennsylvania because of the extreme cold and the ability not to be able to meet all the power needs,” Solobay said.

He said the letter is being sent because other out-of-state coal-fired plans in the PJM grid might be closed in the near future.

“When either during extreme low temperatures or extreme high temperatures or even during regular use, would there be still enough power being generated and supplied to the area in the region that we wouldn’t have any considerations and worrying about brown outs and black outs during those particular high use periods,” Solobay said.

He would not go so far as to say that PJM intentionally deceived them, but they and the public are not happy that the assurances appear to be false.

Both Solobay and Pam believe that PJM should answer to not only the public but also to the 380 employees and their families affected by the closure.

The lawmakers said that it appears that the PJM needs to reevaluate whether or not they have enough electricity to meet demand reliably.

“We’re hoping that the letters of notification and also reaching out to the PUC, that maybe we may have some other equipment in our arsenal to be able to try an stop some of these other closures.”