PJM Wrong About Return of Industrial Demand

PJM, AEP and Allegheny(FirstEnergy) spend a lot of their publicity claiming that when the “economic recovery” comes industrial demand for electricity, which fell 9.1% in 2009 alone, will “return to normal.”  This claim is a big part of their continued support for the failing PATH project.

Here is a good example of why they may be wrong, if and when industrial production on the east coast ever bounces back.

More than 11,000 solar panels will be installed at two Perdue facilities this summer, resulting in one of the largest commercially-owned solar power systems in the eastern United States.

Perdue has entered into a 15-year agreement with Washington Gas Energy Services, Inc. (WGES) to purchase electricity generated by the solar panels at guaranteed prices.
By September 2011, Standard Solar Inc. of Rockville, Md. will install the ground-mounted solar panels, covering the equivalent of approximately 10 football fields, on Perdue property. Almost half will be at the Perdue corporate offices in Salisbury and will be visible to passers-by on westbound U.S. Route 50. The others will be at the company’s feed mill in Bridgeville, Del.
The systems, which will be owned and operated by WGES, will generate an average of 3,700 megawatt hours of electricity each year, or the amount of power used by 340 typical U.S. homes.  At peak production, the panels will produce as much as 90 percent of the electrical demand for each facility.
“Stewardship is one of our company’s core values, so this is a perfect fit for the way we do business,” said Steve Schwalb, Perdue’s Vice President of Environmental Sustainability. “Using solar power means we’ll have a clean energy source that doesn’t pollute or create greenhouse gases, while lowering Perdue’s energy costs over the life of the project.”
Perdue’s chicken processing plants are among the largest industrial facilities on the Eastern Shore of MD.
Note that this is new solar generation in the PJM region.  Perdue will be adding its maximum production to the PJM grid on the hottest summer days, at PJM’s peak demand period.  All of us in WV should be giving Perdue a big thank you for helping MD industry become self-supporting and making their contribution to eliminating the need for PATH.
Apparently, Perdue’s managers have done the math.  They now realize that the massive roofs of their production facilities land around their factories can do much more than keep out the rain just sit there waiting for the next plant expansion.  MD has a strong renewable energy portfolio standard (unlike WV’s joke “standard”) and a very strong market for renewable energy credits.  Perdue will not just be saving on their electricity bill, they will be selling renewable energy credits into one of the highest priced renewable energy credit markets in the US.