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‘Gas Apocalypse’ Looms Amid Power Plant Construction Boom

  • PJM grid sprouts dozens of new facilities amid cheap gas glut
  • Calpine, FirstEnergy and Dynegy put holdings on block
The silhouette of power lines are seen standing at the American Electric Power Co. Inc. coal-fired John E. Amos Power Plant in Winfield, West Virginia, on July 31, 2014.
Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg
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The glut of cheap natural gas from a single, gigantic, shale basin that straddles the Northeast, mid-Atlantic and Midwest has sparked a massive construction boom of power plants. Dozens have been built in the past two years alone.

There’s just one problem: There isn’t nearly enough electricity demand to support all the new capacity. And as wholesale electricity prices plunge, industry experts are anticipating a fire sale of scores of plants in the region. Many, in fact, have already been sold along the PJM Interconnection LLC grid, the nation’s largest, encompassing 13 states from Virginia to Illinois.