Thursday, April 20, 2017

Electric-grid planners: Can there be too much natural gas?

Andrew Maykuth reports for the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Natural gas is fast becoming the dominant source of the region’s electricity, but a parade of energy experts Wednesday cast doubt on whether it was smart to rely too much on a single fuel source.

“Do we have too much gas generation?” asked Andy Ott, president and chief executive of PJM Interconnection Inc., the Audubon, Pa., company that manages the power grid in 13 states and the District of Columbia.

At a symposium PJM organized Wednesday, experts asked whether policymakers need to put the brakes on a massive shift underway to switch the nation’s power-generation resources away from coal and nuclear power plants to new supplies generated by natural gas, wind, and solar.

According to a study PJM released March 30, new domestic supplies of natural gas that have emerged in the last decade could reliably provide up to 86 percent of the region’s power needs, if sufficient infrastructure were put in place.

But Wednesday’s Grid 20/20 symposium at the Marriott Airport Hotel explored the follow-on question of whether reliance on a single fuel source might make the electrical system less resilient, and more vulnerable to attack.

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