Interconnection Process Reform Heads to Stakeholders

Speeding up the Queue, Improving Cost Certainty Among Key Items in New Issue Charge

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PJM and members are gearing up for a formal stakeholder process to explore potential changes in the way PJM handles new interconnection requests, with work focused on reducing the amount of time projects spend in the queue, increasing cost certainty and otherwise improving the interconnection process.

PJM presented a first read of a problem statement and issue charge at the March 9 meeting of the Planning Committee; the document incorporated stakeholder feedback from four PJM-led workshops focused on interconnection process reform.

The Planning Committee will be asked to endorse the issue charge at its April 6 meeting.

In particular, key work activities were identified as:

  • Interconnection studies
  • Cost responsibility
  • Interim operations and agreements
  • Requirements for new service requests and for proceeding through the interconnection process, as well as rules around project modifications
  • Opportunities that can reduce the interconnection queue backlog

Hundreds Joined Workshops

PJM scheduled the workshops in response to the changing makeup of the project queue, driven by increasing numbers of smaller generation resources – primarily renewable and storage – seeking to join the transmission system.

The volume of new service requests has more than tripled over the past three years, adding to a backlog of projects.

Hundreds of stakeholders participated in the sessions, which were held remotely. The first session was Oct. 30, and the final session March 5.

Interconnection Process Changes Needed

From the beginning of 2020 through the present, the PJM studies group has touched about 2,100 projects, said Jason Connell, Director – Infrastructure Planning, who presented at the Planning Committee meeting.

Of that number, 225 projects executed final agreements.

Not many projects are dropping out until the last stages of study, he said, and despite improvements in the study process, project completion time is increasing due to the volume.

Stakeholders Weigh In

Workshop participants were polled prior to the final March 5 session to gauge areas and levels of concern held by different types of stakeholders, including interconnection customers, transmission owners, distribution providers and others who identified as having multiple interests in the interconnection process.

Among the top concerns of the 177 respondents were studies, cost responsibility and schedule. If the Planning Committee endorses the issue charge, Connell said PJM envisions the work being performed through monthly meetings in a task force or special sessions of the Planning Committee.