As millions of people in more than a dozen states eagerly await next month’s solar eclipse, the country’s largest power grid operator is preparing for the impact it will have on solar power generators.
PJM Interconnection, a regional transmission organization serving 13 states, including Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, as well as Washington, DC, announced Monday they plan on ensuring reliable electricity supplies during the August 21 solar eclipse, when passage of the moon completely blocks out the sun. The event, which will be seen first in Oregon and cut diagonally across 14 states to South Carolina, will be the first total solar eclipse visible coast-to-coast since 1918.
PJM expects the eclipse to cause solar power generators to temporarily lose their fuel source from 1:30 p.m. to 3:40 p.m. on August 21. They also expect the temporary reduction in solar power to be up to 2500 megawatts though it will vary from home to home. A power reduction from a rooftop solar panel causes an increase in electric demand on the power grid. PJM says solar generation comprises less than 1 percent of its 185,000 megawatts of generation capacity.
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“Certainly, this is an unusual solar event, but as far as potential impacts to the grid, PJM and its members are prepared,” said PJM President and CEO Andrew L. Ott. “While this is an anticipated event, we routinely plan and prepare for unpredictable events or things that can’t be forecast far in advance, such as severe storms and heat waves.”
The eclipse will have a greater impact on certain states, including New Jersey which has more solar generation than other states served by the organization, according to PJM. The organization says they will “ensure sufficient resources are ready to replace” any solar generation loss.
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