Sierra Club
Sierra Club Press Release

June 22, 2011

Contact:Sean Sarah, 202 548-4859,


New Report: Getting the Grid to Work for Us

Recommendations on How To Best Upgrade Electricity Transmission in the Mid Atlantic

Washington, DC -- Today, the Sierra Club and Synapse Energy Economics released a new report detailing how PJM Interconnection will deal with coming challenges to the Mid-West and Mid-Atlantic electric power grids. The report entitled  PJM System Planning Enhancements for the 21st Century  examines how PJM can best meet the needs of the more than 51 million Americans who, despite changing safeguards on coal fired power in the region, rely on the infrastructure they maintain to keep the lights on.

Click here to download the report.

As the regional transmission operator for much of the eastern part of the country PJM is responsible for reliable transmission service that is efficient and non-discriminatory. Now that it must contend with new safeguards and public policy measures it is more important than ever that PJM do its job efficiently and to the benefit of everyone that it serves.

"A smart, sustainable transmission system is in the best interests of ratepayers, power generators and PJM," said Paul Peterson of Synapse Energy Economics. "This report not only paves the way forward in reliability but shows how PJM can save rate payers money, solve the problems of costly plant phase outs and ensure compliance with strong environmental safeguards."

In the last two years a wave of coal fired power plants have announced that they will phase out over the coming years. These phase outs bring distinct challenges to ensuring reliable power transmission. This report seeks to provide smart, real world solutions to deal with those challenges while providing added economic and environmental benefits to the mix. The report finds that:

*PJM must plan for the retirement of coal fired power plants: The grid it oversees faces a loss of approximately 14,000 megawatts or more in coal fired power over the next few years as operators decide to close down old, dirty plants, rather than invest in pollution controls required by long-overdue Clean Air Act safeguards.  If PJM does not properly plan for these retirements, generators will be able to charge ratepayers to keep these plants open longer, while PJM addresses any reliability hurdles caused by the retirements.

*PJM can solve the problem of expensive plant shutdowns by getting an earlier start on the process: requiring power producers to give more than a 90 day notice of retirement, carefully analyzing public data to determine which plants are likely to close and researching which may cause reliability problems on the grid.

*In many cases costly new transmission lines don’t have to be built: By taking an example from New York state’s existing efforts, PJM can find low cost solutions by requesting proposals from the public for low-cost reliability solutions, including alternatives that don’t require building transmission lines, and transparently considering them.

The report details multiple solutions to the reliability issues faced over the coming years including better stress testing of the grid, a focus on long term planning and implementing renewable energy into the regional grids portfolio.

To view the report visit