Preparing for winter: we’re checking the list

By Mike Bryson, vice president – Operations

 Winter arrived early in most of the PJM region with a blast of several days of freezing temperatures. Fortunately, PJM and our members are ready for the winter season  with more than enough resources to meet the expected peak demand. However, being ready for winter takes more than just having enough resources on hand; it’s making sure those resources are able to perform no matter what conditions are present.

This winter, we have one of the strongest tools available to ensure high performance of our resources: Capacity Performance. It’s a market product that sets strict requirements for resources which have committed through the annual capacity auction. This market-based solution evolved after evaluating the operational impacts seen during the 2014 Polar Vortex.

Capacity Performance resources – generation, demand response and energy efficiency – must produce electricity when called upon regardless of weather or extreme system conditions. If they do not, they face significant non-performance charges. As part of a multi-year transition to having all resources meeting Capacity Performance standards, 60 percent of the resources procured for this winter meet the standards. All resources will be required to meet Capacity Performance standards by June 1, 2020.  The Capacity Performance product also envisions resources making additional readiness investments and capturing those investments in their capacity offers.

PJM and member companies have 183,665 megawatts of electric capacity resources available to meet the forecasted winter peak demand of 135,548 MW.

However, history has shown us that we can’t prepare based solely on forecasts. In addition to Capacity Performance, other lessons learned from the Polar Vortex underscored the need to prepare for the most extreme contingencies and shore up any vulnerability in the system.

Members, specifically generators, are now required to complete a winter readiness checklist, complete a fuel survey to ensure they have adequate fuel supply and demonstrate all units are capable of starting up and running if needed. They also participate in the seasonal emergency operations procedures drill.

PJM has its own seasonal preparedness checklist, which includes holding coordination meetings with natural gas industry representatives, the local distribution companies and neighboring reliability coordinators.

PJM is like the person you know who has done everything that can reasonably be done early on in the season – plan, check supplies, make sure everyone who is supposed to be there is confirmed and is ready to take steps to make sure everything runs smoothly. Like any good planner, we will continue monitoring actual conditions and checking the list until the next season.