Markets & Reliability Committee to Weigh in on Fuel Security Plan

Senior task force will recommend continued monitoring of the issue, but no imminent changes to planning, operations, markets


The Markets & Reliability Committee will be asked Dec. 19 to vote on whether market, planning or operational changes are needed to ensure the future availability of fuel and sets of resources on the grid.

To inform this decision, Tim Horger, Director of Energy Market Operations – Market Services, will present the findings of the Fuel Security Senior Task Force, which has studied the issue since April. In particular, Horger will highlight the results of a non-binding poll in which task force members favored retaining the status quo.

At the group’s Dec. 16 meeting, Horger said the status quo should not be seen as a do-nothing approach.

“It’s understood that PJM needs to continue to monitor this initiative from a fuel security perspective. In the analysis done last year, we did stress the system to a point where we identified vulnerabilities,” Horger said. “The new status quo is that we would include it in a stakeholder work plan, most likely the Operating Committee, for periodic analysis. Regardless of what happens, PJM will be doing that.”

If the risk to the system is determined to be escalating, the issue would be returned for stakeholder feedback, he said.

Poll: Three Paths Forward

The poll of task force members consisted of nine questions that revolved around three paths forward: status quo; defining criteria in the coming year, which, if met, would trigger the need to develop a solution; and developing both criteria and a solution in 2020.

Of the 204 responses, 69 represented voting members, 134 came from affiliate members and one was from a state commission.

The results were:

  • Path 1 (status quo): yes, 74 percent; no, 26 percent; maybe, 0 percent
  • Path 2 (define criteria only): yes, 24 percent; no, 47 percent; maybe, 30 percent
  • Path 3 (develop criteria and solution): yes, 19 percent; no, 65 percent; maybe, 17 percent

Some participants said PJM’s current tools are sufficient, and that Capacity Performance rules provide a proper incentive. Others said changes may be needed in the future, but not now. Some worried that any criteria developed now would be too prescriptive, or would be trying to address a problem as yet undefined. Other respondents urged PJM to be proactive.

Task Force Took 2018 Study Further

PJM recommended that members create the Fuel Security Senior Task Force following the November 2018 release of its Fuel Security Study, which stress-tested the grid using more than 300 scenarios. The findings showed that the system can withstand an extended period of stress while remaining reliable and fuel secure. However, there were combinations of extreme conditions under which the system could be subject to disruptions.

The group took the study’s analysis further, adding 56 sensitivities and, in the end, calculating risk for 4,720,380 scenarios.

While there is no imminent threat to the system, the findings of the study – and the task force’s work – underscore the importance of PJM continuing to monitor fuel and resource security issues, Horger said.

What’s Next?

A “yes” vote at the Markets & Reliability Committee would send the issue back to the task force for further study, Horger said.

A “no” vote would result in the sunsetting of the task force, and PJM will incorporate the issue into the work plan of a standing committee for continued monitoring.