PC Endorses Issue Charge to Study Critical-Infrastructure Mitigation

Alternate issue charge fails; members also sunset DER Ride Through Task Force


The PJM Planning Committee endorsed an issue charge Dec. 12 to examine how PJM’s planning process should mitigate the impact of highly critical transmission facilities, as defined by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).

Introduced in September with a problem statement by the Office of the People’s Counsel for the District of Columbia, the issue charge was deferred twice for a vote to give time for PJM transmission owners to hold a two-hour question-and-answer webinar in November. On Thursday, the issue charge passed with 56 percent support following an hour-and-a-half debate.

Discussion centered on an alternative issue charge introduced by Exelon that would remove from discussion fewer than 20 critical transmission assets slated for mitigation. It focused solely on the future, specifically how to ensure highly critical transmission facilities are not created in the first place.

Some stakeholders pushed back on removing current projects from review. They noted that the D.C. People’s Counsel’s problem statement was created in response to the transmission owners’ Aug. 12 notice of their intent to file a new Attachment M-4 to the PJM Tariff for the planning of certain mitigation projects.

Highly Critical Assets at Issue

The planning involves facilities that have been identified as highly critical under NERC’s Critical Infrastructure Protection guidance. Highly critical facilities are those that — if rendered inoperable or damaged as a result of a physical attack — could result in instability, uncontrolled separation or cascading within an interconnection.

Currently there is no NERC requirement for transmission owners to mitigate the critical nature of these facilities other than through physical security. Stakeholders representing other sectors argue that PJM should provide oversight and develop the most effective and efficient solution in an open and collaborative regional transmission planning process and are asking for additional transparency. A separate but related resolution was introduced by LS Power at the Dec. 5 Members Committee meeting.

Ultimately, Committee Chair Dave Souder ruled both issue charges could be voted on since they both focused on a common subject, only differing in scope. The Exelon-sponsored issue charge failed, garnering just 45 percent support. Dave Anders, Director of Stakeholder Affairs, said he would add the topic of how alternate issue charges can or should be introduced to the agenda of the next Stakeholder Process Forum.

The work of the endorsed issue charge is expected to take six months and take place at the Planning Committee or a special subgroup as needed.

DER Ride Through Task Force Sunsetted

Members also unanimously endorsed sunsetting the DER Ride Through Task Force, created after their Nov. 8, 2018, meeting. As distributed energy resources – primarily solar – grow in PJM, so does the need to manage operational performance requirements and their potential impact to the bulk electric system.

For the grid to remain reliable, the key performance requirements for DER are frequency and voltage ride through. Ride through requires resources to stay connected to the system for a very short period of time in the event of a wide area disturbance, rather than trip offline and potentially exacerbate abnormal conditions.

Early polling indicated stakeholders did not want a PJM standard ride through settings package, Susan McGill, manager of Interconnection Analysis, said in her presentation. Instead, PJM focused on producing a voluntary minimum guideline.

The task force completed its work by creating a PJM recommendation to use when there is no local standard.

Solar Eclipses Gas

Onyinye Caven, a system planning engineer, presented an update on the PJM interconnection queue from November 2013 through October 2019.

Caven highlighted two trends:

First, that requests to connect solar generation have surpassed natural gas, both in number of projects and megawatts. Out of 337 requests for the most recent queue, 238 are for solar and 24 for natural gas. Of the total 29,717 MW, 18,334 MW represent solar and 2,180 MW natural gas.

Second, the state with the most projects, Pennsylvania, is not the state with the most megawatts (Virginia has the most megawatts in the queue). The difference reflects the fact that many of Pennsylvania’s projects are smaller-megawatt solar projects.