Asthana Opens PJM Annual Meeting With 2021 Reflections, a Look Ahead

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PJM President and CEO Manu Asthana on Tuesday reflected on the achievements of 2021 and the work ahead for the grid operator at the first in-person PJM Annual Meeting of Members in three years.

In his May 17 keynote address to the Members Committee to kick off the 2022 Annual Meeting, Asthana praised stakeholders for the “real progress” achieved over the last year on multiple, complex, critical issues. He noted that all were based on a broad stakeholder process driven by feedback, compromise and consensus.

Those achievements included:

  • Interconnection Process Reform
  • Minimum Offer Price Rule reform
  • Updated Effective Load Carrying Capability rules
  • Offshore wind development, including the first-ever use of the State Agreement Approach with New Jersey
  • Order 2222 compliance filing on incorporating distributed energy resources into the wholesale electricity markets
  • Response to FERC’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANOPR) on transmission planning
  • Becoming the first RTO to publish marginal emissions data on a nodal basis
  • Initiation of the Resource Adequacy Senior Task Force, including work to design a clean energy procurement market

Asthana said these accomplishments flow directly from PJM’s three-pronged strategy, which is to facilitate the decarbonization policies in our footprint reliability and cost-effectively, using competitive markets; to plan for and bring about the grid of the future; and to create an environment of innovation within PJM and among its members and broader stakeholder body.

“It was also reflective of the power that we have working together as a stakeholder body,” he said. “I think when the stakeholder body works together well … we have the power to solve really complex problems.”

This year’s meeting marks a welcome shift back to in-person interaction after two years of remote meetings, Asthana noted. The last in-person Annual Meeting took place in 2019.

Asthana highlighted how PJM and its stakeholders fulfilled the regional transmission organization’s central mission of reliably delivering electricity at the lowest reasonable cost for the consumers in PJM’s footprint during the past year, while also planning for a rapidly evolving future.

Early 2021 underscored important responsibility that PJM’s members take on every day – keeping the power flowing to 13 states and the District of Columbia – when Winter Storm Uri brought devastating outages to Texas and parts of the South-Central U.S.

“It was a sobering reminder of the importance of what we do, the importance of keeping the lights on for the 65 million people who we serve, which is our number one purpose,” Asthana said. “I felt the weight since I took this job of that responsibility; after Uri, I have felt it even more.”

While 2021 was a year in which PJM performed extremely well, Asthana noted what that effort is grounded in – coordination, planning and operational excellence. “There is a lot of work that goes into reliability,” he said. It is our number one priority, and I feel great about how collectively we have performed against that priority over the last year.”

Asthana also discussed how the organization achieves reliability through the power of competitive markets and through longer term expert transmission planning. As the energy transition accelerates, PJM is seeing an immense amount of work in each of these areas and within its stakeholder process, he said.

“We are trying to adapt our markets, our planning and our operations to the evolving grid, the evolving policy landscape and the evolving customer landscape,” said “That level of transformation has reflected itself in our stakeholder process.”

Looking to 2022, Asthana highlighted the ongoing work that will help to shape PJM’s focus during the year and beyond, led by the Resource Adequacy Senior Task Force (RASTF), which is tasked with coordinating multiple issues of resource adequacy across multiple stakeholder committees, subcommittees and task forces.

“When you think about capacity markets, and energy markets, and ancillary markets, and how they interact with each other to deliver reliability using competition, that’s just normal for us – that’s just how we do business,” Asthana said. “But if you look across the world, that’s not that normal, that’s a pretty radical experiment, and it’s an experiment that has paid huge dividends for the 65 million people who live in our footprint and for our members.”

It’s important to get the work of the RASTF right he said. To keep pace with the evolving energy landscape, he said, PJM and stakeholders “are asking things of our markets that we didn’t used to ask of them” in facilitating the policies of 13 different states and Washington, D.C.

He also noted that PJM’s response to FERC’s NOPR on transmission planning will be an immense piece of work in 2022, with many facets that could define the next decade for PJM’s markets and for energy policy in the country overall.

Asthana closed by mentioning PJM’s 95/25 anniversary – 95 years as an organization overall, along with 25 years as an ISO and operating markets.

“This 95 years, this 25 years, belongs as much to all of you as it belongs to the people that work at PJM. I want to say thank you for supporting the RTO and for supporting our important mission.”