Ken Seiler Discusses Regional Planning at FERC Conference

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Ken Seiler, Vice President – Planning, detailed how PJM evaluates, selects and develops regional transmission facilities Thursday at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Technical Conference on Transmission Planning and Cost Management.

The Oct. 6 session focused on two issues: how transmission providers evaluate potential regional transmission facilities to determine whether they could more efficiently or cost-effectively address an identified reliability need; and cost management practices that require coordination between local and regional transmission planning processes.

“Long-term planning for the reliable delivery of wholesale power is one of PJM’s main responsibilities,” Seiler said in his submitted statement.

In the statement, he outlined PJM’s Regional Transmission Expansion Planning process, noting that it identifies grid-enhancement solutions throughout the year through open, transparent engagement with members, other stakeholders, regulatory agencies and others.

Addressing specific questions in FERC’s notice, Seiler walked through in his submitted statement the competitive proposal process and the factors that are considered, including cost, constructability, reliability margin, project execution risks and sensitivity analysis.

Transmission-provider-specific reliability standards are used in identifying regional transmission needs as part of transmission planning, Seiler stated. PJM integrates both “regional” and “local” planning when applying reliability criteria to identify a need for baseline transmission enhancements.

Asked what changes to the regional transmission planning process, if any, could improve the identification of more efficient or cost-effective regional transmission facilities for reliability, Seiler said PJM’s experience with the RTEP process has demonstrated that both regional and local baseline transmission needs can be determined holistically through consistent application of NERC, regional and FERC reliability standards.

Echoing PJM’s perspective in other filings, Seiler noted in his statement that “the Commission should adopt a comprehensive proposal to address the concept of ‘Enhanced Reliability.’”

Overall, Seiler said, PJM supports FERC’s proposed reforms aimed at requiring forward-looking, long-term scenario planning to meet transmission needs driven by “changes in the resource mix and demand,” which should result in more efficient or cost-effective regional transmission solutions.

He stated that the Commission also should engage in a comprehensive examination of all drivers of transmission system expansion.

“This should include studying the impacts of new generation and deactivating generation as driven by public policy and market forces, enhanced reliability criteria, transmission facility trends, aging infrastructure, and growing load pockets to meet consumer demand,” Seiler said in his statement.

“Doing so will ensure that necessary reliability-driven enhancements will be identified to enable grid transformation triggered by changes in resource mix and demand. Such evaluations could yield more cost-effective solutions in certain circumstances.” PJM previously submitted comments to FERC’s related Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on regional electric transmission planning and cost allocation.