PJM briefs members on cold weather operations

At the Members Committee meeting Thursday afternoon, Andy Ott, president and CEO, thanked members for their contributions during the cold snap, calling it “quite an accomplishment.”

He noted that PJM will continue to analyze the numbers; there is quite a significant amount of data to sift through.

Ott also was part of a panel that testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Jan 23 about the PJM grid’s performance during the cold snap.

PJM issued Cold Weather Alerts during the recent cold snap from Dec. 27, 2017, to Jan. 7, 2018, as well as Heavy Load Voltage Schedule Warnings and Actions on Jan. 4 and Jan. 5, 2018. PJM did not experience any reserve shortages or performance assessment intervals.

Chris Pilong, director – Dispatch, told stakeholders at Thursday’s Markets & Reliability Committee meeting that PJM issued Heavy Load Voltage Schedule Warnings and Actions on Jan. 4 and 5 to maximize internal extra-high voltage transfer capability.

Pilong also pointed out that PJM will continue to refine the numbers over next few weeks but that the statistics that PJM has now “provide good insight.”

He went through all unplanned outages as a percentage of ICAP (page 12), by commitment type. There were 135,106 megawatts of Capacity Performance generation and 60,772 MW of non-CP.

PJM’s goal for load forecast errors is to forecast within 3 percent of the actual load, but, Pilong said, the load forecast error spiked on Jan. 4 during the bomb cyclone storm. Pilong said many things happened over that weekend that affected human behavior and electricity usage patterns, making forecasting a challenge. Having the load spike as much as it did is rare.

Pilong compared the online generation fuel mixes for Feb. 20, 2015, (with load at 138,796 megawatts, PJM’s highest-ever winter peak) and Jan. 5, 2018, with 137,939 MW.

Coal-fired generation was down a little bit between the two years (41 percent in 2014 vs. 37 percent in 2018), much of that due to retirements. Nuclear increased (23 percent in 2014 vs. 26 percent in 2018).

As the cold snap continued, the price of natural gas went up, which caused some of the gas plants to switch to lower-cost oil. Pilong said that generators made those decisions based on economics and PJM did not direct them to make the switch.