PJM Queue Indicates Growing Interest in Natural Gas

An analysis of the the 13-state PJM interconnection electric grid queue of proposed power plants shows us what we already knew. The advent of fracking is leading to a boom in natural gas-fired generation. Nevertheless, a close inspection of the numbers starkly demonstrates the extent of the boom in a quantitative manner.

For instance, almost 70 percent of the proposed megawatts of additional cacpacity added to the queue over the last two years is for gas-fired generation. In total, nearly 50,000 MW of gas fired generation has been added to the queue since 2011.

The queue consists of nearly 70,000 MW of gas-fired generation, and more than two-thirds of it was added over the last two years, a clear sign of increased interested due to the lower prices brought about by fracking. 

There are 130 gas-fired generation proposals on the queue, and they constitute almost half of its aggregate capacity of about 140,000 MW. 

Completed projects were not included in this analysis.

According to PJM spokesperson Ray Dotter, only 20% of the queued capacity is built.  That’s because joining the queue only takes an initial investment of a couple thousand dollars, he said. In return PJM estimates the cost of connecting the project to the grid. The expenses rise as the project moves farther along in the process.     

If you (reasonably) assume that natural gas projects are more likely to be completed than regulation-saddled nuclear or coal projects, then the numbers underestimate the dominance of natural gas compared to its competitors. Indeed it appears that some of the projects on the queue are actually defunct projects that haven’t yet been removed from the queue. But those proposals are mainly solar and wind projects.  

Looking at individual states, New Jersey leads all PJM states with more than 17,000 MW of gas-fired generation on queue, followed closely by Pennsylvania. Virginia has more than 12,000 MW of proposed generation; Ohio and Maryland have more than 6,000 MW.

This entry is based on a story (subscriber’s only) I wrote for Natural Gas Intelligence.

Here is the spreadsheet that contains the summary statistics used in this story. It also contains the master list of queued projects from which the summary statistics are derived. Calculations (only addition, haha) were performed on Column D (“MW”).

Pennsylvania State Government

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s record keeper. The agency provides some of the most detailed and up to date data you’ll find. Some of the reports are updated daily. All of the reports produced can be uploaded into an Excel document.

The Reports (for more information view report instructions on DEP website)

All in all, the names are pretty self-explanatory and the reports are easy to use. Way to go PA!