Working to give members the breakthrough in timing they need

By Tom O’Brien,  vice president and chief information officer

The significant shift in fuel supply toward natural gas requires better alignment between the gas market day and the electric day.

Members challenged us to decrease the time to clear Day-Ahead Market offers before prices are posted. To limit their exposure to risk, natural gas-fired generators need to know they are committed for the next day before securing gas supplies and delivery. We need to think differently about how we solve this challenge and must consider short-term, intermediate term and long-term solutions.  To meet members’ needs of having market solutions faster, we must use breakthrough thinking and incrementally make improvements along the way.

Recently, we moved from clearing the market in four hours to clearing in three hours by implementing software improvements, hardware enhancements and process improvements.

The ultimate challenge is to clear the market in minutes rather than hours. Such a leap in clearing time is significant. While we make incremental improvements, we’ll identify breakthroughs to solve the problem.

We will improve how we model our Day-Ahead Market, looking for greater efficiencies such as generator ramping schedules and the sequencing of our processes. We will consider market rule changes if appropriate. One potential breakthrough lies in massive parallelization of the application software and the computational engines that clear the market.

Unfortunately, there’s no off-the-shelf solution. We are collaborating with software, computational engine and hardware vendors to improve parallelization and re-architect the Day-Ahead Market solution. To seek potential breakthrough solutions, we plan to do research and development internally, and with our vendor partners.

We also will tap the competencies of academia and research organizations to look at the challenge differently. We will collaborate with other ISOs/RTOs, as well, as they explore innovative solutions with the Department of Energy National Labs and others. In addition, PJM has an integrated team from multiple departments working together on solutions that include alternative technologies and cognitive modeling.

I am confident we will find the innovation breakthrough needed to drive results.  Along the way, we will report our progress to members.