General Session Panelists Discuss Needed Infrastructure Development


Panelists representing federal, state and international agencies as well as industry organizations joined PJM’s General Session Monday to discuss how transmission infrastructure needs to evolve to meet the needs of our future grid.

PJM has been engaging stakeholders extensively on the topic in the context of the RTO’s three strategic pillars, PJM President and CEO Manu Asthana said as he kicked off the three-hour virtual session. Those pillars are: facilitating state and federal decarbonization policies in the most reliable, cost-effective manner possible; enabling the grid of the future; and fostering innovation.

Commissioner Clements Delivers Keynote

FERC Commissioner Allison Clements

In her keynote address, FERC Commissioner Allison Clements said the industry is at an inflection point, with a need for transformation across the energy sector.

“This transformation provides tremendous opportunities and, of course, the need to manage significant risks that have brought us to this point,” she said. “Climate change and evolving cyber threats are formidable.”

Clements said her priority is to effectively protect consumers and support reliability throughout the energy transition.

“Achieving this lofty goal is going to require significant intentional investment, not just in infrastructure, but in stakeholder coordination and involvement,” she said.

She echoed Asthana’s sentiment of making the best use of the existing grid and emphasized forward planning using the best information available about customers’ future needs. This will maximize benefits to customers and ensure strong oversight of costs, she said.

PJM is working with stakeholders on numerous fronts on the issue of transmission planning, Asthana noted, including:

  • Reforming the interconnection process to get projects through the queue more quickly
  • Responding to the FERC’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on regional planning
  • Continuing work on resource adequacy
  • Facilitating the entry of distributed energy resources into the markets under FERC Order 2222

“To me, infrastructure is not just about making more investments in infrastructure, it’s about making wise investments in the infrastructure we have,” Asthana said.

Panel Discussions

Two panels, one representing U.S. and international government agencies and the other representing industry organizations, voiced a number of common themes, including:

  • The scale of change will be drastic.
  • While much more transmission will need to be built, it is critical to maximize use of existing infrastructure.
  • Planning must reach further into the future than the existing market looks.
  • Resource flexibility and maintaining reliability will be key.
  • There will need to be a dramatic development of the workforce in order to have the manpower to build the infrastructure.

The first panel, moderated by Craig Glazer, Vice President – Federal Government Policy, elicited the perspectives of federal, state and international agencies. Participating were:

  • Jignasa Gadani, director of the FERC’s Office of Energy Policy and Innovation at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
  • Michelle Manary, acting deputy assistant secretary for electric delivery, U.S. Department of Energy
  • The Honorable Gladys Brown Dutrieuille, ‎chair, Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission
  • Benjamin Kroposki, director, Power Systems Engineering Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • Brent Wanner, head of Power Sector Unit, World Energy Outlook, International Energy Agency

The second panel focused on the views of industry organizations and was moderated by Asim Haque, Vice President – State & Member Services.

Participants were:

  • Jeff Dennis, general counsel and managing director, Advanced Energy Economy
  • Larry Gasteiger, executive director, WIRES
  • Chaz Teplin, principal, RMI
  • Kwafo Adarkwa, director, Public Affairs, ITC Michigan