FERC to Mirant: Keep Power Flowing to Nation's Capital

Finding that a power-supply emergency existed in the Washington, DC area, Secretary of Energy Bodman on December 20 issued an emergency order directing Mirant to continue to operate its Potomac River, 482-MW power plant.  The plant had stopped operations to avoid violating its air quality permit.  Secretary Bodman explained that, absent the Potomac River plant, should either of Potomac Electric Power Company's (Pepco) 230-kV lines become unavailable, power supply to the Capital would be in jeopardy.

Following the Secretary, in a January 9 order FERC ordered PJM Interconnection L.L.C. (PJM) and Pepco to devise a long-term plan to maintain adequate reliability in the Washington, D.C. region, as well as an interim plan to provide adequate reliability pending implementation of a long-term plan.   Due to the fact that PJM's and Pepco's current transmission system has been shown to have a high probability of violating the NERC and PJM reliability standards, FERC directed PJM and Pepco jointly to develop a comprehensive long-term plan to address operation, planning and construction of needed transmission facilities for the region.  PJM and Pepco must file the comprehensive plan with FERC by February 8 and must also jointly submit progress reports to FERC on a monthly basis until the plan has been fully implemented.  Immediately after the issuance of FERC's order, Pepco announced that it already has a plan in the works to build new transmission lines in the area. See Mirant Plant Showdown Prompts Efforts to Expand Transmission in D.C.

Additionally, Pepco recently announced that it would be repairing one of its 230-kV lines sometime this month.  The Department of Energy declined to grant a Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) request to order Pepco to postpone its transmission line repairs until Mirant could put the proper air pollution controls in place at the plant, stating instead through its spokesman that it will address VDEQ's request in a future order.   [District of Columbia Pub. Serv. Comm'n, 114 FERC ¶ 61,017 (2006)]