New Task Force to Explore Interconnection Process Reform

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PJM and stakeholders kicked off a new task force Friday charged with devising a plan to improve the interconnection process.

The new Interconnection Process Reform Task Force will focus on:

  • Interconnection studies
  • Cost concerns – including project cost estimates and cost responsibility for network upgrades
  • 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 current and future interconnection queue backlog

At the first meeting of the task force Friday, PJM proposed a parallel series of meetings that would look at related federal interconnection policy issues that affect the PJM interconnection process.

Craig Glazer, Vice President – Federal Government Policy, pointed to President Biden’s recent pledge to slash U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half over the next two decades, as well as an 18-year-old order from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that underpins the interconnection process, as considerations that make such a conversation relevant and timely.

“These would be a set of meetings that would run alongside these other issues to tackle these larger national issues and get people talking to each other. It is expected to help inform what PJM – or PJM and stakeholders – might propose to the FERC as it begins to look at these larger policy issues,” Glazer said. He noted that it may not make sense to have PJM using one paradigm – , with its neighbors using significantly different paradigms – on fundamental issues associated with any major build-out of the grid and the difficult cost allocation issues associated with that build-out.

Glazer said he envisions a handful of half-day meetings over the next six months.

The senior task force grew out of four PJM-led workshops focused on interconnection process reform that began last October and ended in March. Hundreds of stakeholders attended the remotely held sessions.

The Planning Committee endorsed the new group’s issue charge at its April 6 meeting.

According to its work plan, the group expects to have a package ready to present to the Planning Committee at its November meeting.

The timetable targets January 2022 for any proposed Tariff changes to be filed with FERC.

On Friday, the senior task force reviewed the current interconnection process, a recap of the workshops, a proposed work plan, and broader federal policy issues relating to interconnection that may warrant discussion.

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

The volume of new service requests has more than tripled over the past three years, adding to a backlog of projects. Not many projects are dropping out until the last stages of study, and despite improvements in the study process, project completion time is increasing due to the volume.