2022 in Review: Planning for the Future Grid

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Designed graphic saying Year in Review 2022

Preparing for a future grid with a large number of dispersed renewable resources was at the heart of PJM’s planning efforts in 2022, with major advancements in processing new generation resources onto the system, offshore wind planning and development, and the critical research and analysis to prepare for an energy transition that ensures electric service that is both reliable and cost-effective.

PJM and stakeholders passed a significant milestone Nov. 29, when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a more efficient and timely process to handle New Service Requests.

This new interconnection process, filed with FERC June 14, is designed to clear the backlog of generation resources seeking to connect to the grid, and transitions PJM to a “first-ready, first-served” cycle approach from a “first-come, first-served” method.

These changes are critical for PJM to help states advance their decarbonization goals because it will move requests through the interconnection queue more efficiently and focus on projects that are more likely to get built.

During the transition period – expected to begin in early 2023 – PJM will prioritize more than 1,200 projects, most of them renewables, representing more than 200,000 MW of nameplate capacity. The goal is to have the backlog cleared and new projects being reviewed under the new rules by early 2026.

PJM and stakeholders collaborated for over a year to come up with the ultimate proposal, which streamlines generation interconnection requests, improves project cost certainty, and significantly improves the process by which new and upgraded generation resources are introduced onto the grid. Members, including many developers of renewable generation projects, overwhelmingly endorsed the plan.

New Tool Further Eases Interconnection Process

In December, PJM released a new, public planning tool – Queue Scope – that can be used to evaluate the impacts of new generation on the grid, enabling developers to better assess the viability of potential projects.

Queue Scope allows users to assess the location of future generators before they formally enter PJM’s interconnection queue. Using PJM’s RTEP and interconnection queue studies, the tool analyzes the impacts on the PJM system based on the amount of megawatts that would be added to the system at a chosen point of interconnection.

PJM Aids NJ’s Offshore Wind Goals

Also in 2022, PJM saw the culmination of its groundbreaking use of the State Agreement Approach (SAA) with New Jersey.

On Oct. 26, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities selected a package of onshore transmission solutions that, in conjunction with prior action, will enable the injection of 7,500 MW of offshore wind capacity by 2035.

The NJBPU order was informed by technical analysis performed by PJM staff under the State Agreement Approach, through which states can access PJM’s expertise and existing planning process to cost-effectively develop and optimize the transmission improvements necessary to support the reliable interconnection of certain desirable resources.

PJM assisted the NJBPU in analyzing 80 proposals submitted by 13 developers through PJM’s competitive planning process.

The SAA enables a state or group of states to propose a project that could potentially realize public policy requirements as long as the state (or states) agrees to pay all costs of the state-selected buildout included in the Regional Transmission Expansion Plan (RTEP).

The provision was incorporated into PJM’s Operating Agreement eight years ago as part of the implementation of FERC Order 1000, but New Jersey is the first jurisdiction in the PJM footprint to request it be used to further its renewable energy goals.

PJM also continued to work with all of its states on a regional offshore wind study that looks at opportunities for potential transmission solutions between different transmission zones and states to interconnect both new offshore wind projects and other clean energy projects driven by state policy goals. Part 1 of the study was published in 2021, and Part 2 is expected in 2023.

Furthering Long-Term Transmission Planning

In its focus on long-term transmission planning, PJM was in step with growing interest by FERC, which issued four related Notices of Proposed Rulemaking:

  • Building for the Future Through Electric Regional Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation and Generator Interconnection (also called the Long-Term Planning NOPR)
  • Transmission System Planning Performance Requirements for Extreme Weather
  • One-Time Informational Reports on Extreme Weather Vulnerability Assessments, Climate Change, Extreme Weather, and Electric System Reliability
  • Improvements to Generator Interconnection Procedures and Agreements

In February, PJM kicked off a series of Long-Term Transmission Planning Reform Workshops to engage stakeholders on potential reforms.

PJM filed its comments on FERC’s Long-Term Planning NOPR in August after significant feedback from stakeholders, state regulators and staff.

PJM executives also provided testimony on the issue, including Ken Seiler, Vice President – Planning. Among his appearances, he joined the Oct. 6 Technical Conference on Transmission Planning and Cost Management, where he detailed how PJM evaluates, selects and develops regional transmission facilities.