Solar and wind gain, prices fall as PJM auction secures future capacity


PJM Interconnection said that renewables, nuclear, and new natural gas generators saw the greatest increase in cleared capacity as part of the regional grid operator’s annual capacity auction. Coal units saw the largest decrease.

This year’s auction procured 144,477 MW of resources for the period June 1, 2022, through May 31, 2023, at a total cost of $3.9 billion. The auction produced a price of $50/MW-day for much of the PJM footprint, compared to $140/MW-day in the most recent auction in 2018. Prices were higher in some regions due to transmission limits.

PJM footprint

Grid operator PJM said that solar and wind resources “significantly increased” their capacity contribution. A total of 1,728 MW of wind cleared in the auction, representing an increase of 312 MW over the previous capacity auction. Solar increased by 942 MW over the previous capacity auction, with 1,512 MW clearing.

These capacity values represent a total capability of these resources to provide as much as 11,761 MW (nameplate) into the PJM system.

The PJM capacity auction, called the Base Residual Auction, procures power supply resources in advance of the delivery year to meet electricity needs in the PJM service area, which includes all or part of 13 states and the District of Columbia, and includes around 65 million customers.

Auctions are usually held three years in advance of the delivery year. The 2022/2023 auction was originally slated for May 2019, but was postponed as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission considered new capacity market rules, specifically the Minimum Offer Price Rule (MOPR).

The total procured capacity in the auction represents a 19.9% reserve margin.

In announcing the capacity auction results, PJM said that newer, more efficient combined-cycle natural gas plants saw a big increase in this year’s auction, adding more than 3,414 MW of capacity. Energy efficiency programs were up by 1,979 MW, or 70%, while demand response, at 8,812 MW, was down 2,314 MW, or 21%, from the previous auction.

Nuclear generators cleared an additional 4,460 MW when compared to the last auction. Coal generators, meanwhile, cleared 8,175 fewer megawatts.

The total procured capacity in the auction represents a 19.9% reserve margin, compared to a 14.5% required reserve for the 2022/2023 delivery year.

PJM said that in five areas–ComEd, Duke Energy Ohio & Kentucky, the Mid-Atlantic Area Council (MAAC) region, Eastern MAAC region, and Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE)–capacity prices were higher than the overall PJM price.

For ComEd, the price was $68.96/MW-day; for Duke Energy Ohio & Kentucky, the price was $71.69/MW-day; for MAAC, the price was $95.79/MW-day; for Eastern MAAC, the price was $97.86/MW-day; and for BGE, the price was $126.50/MW-day.

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