With many complex and sometimes controversial issues facing PJM and its stakeholders, the PJM Board of Managers launched a trial initiative earlier this year to improve communication and transparency.
In recent months, selected members of the PJM Board have met with representatives from each of the industry sectors that make up PJM’s membership, to share information and exchange views on a wide range of topics – from transmission planning to market design, the evolving generation mix, state policy dynamics and PJM’s role as the grid operator/service organization serving 65 million people in 13 states and Washington, D.C.
Inspired by a request from transmission owners, and modeled on sector-specific meetings offered in some other regional transmission organizations, these broad and strategic conversations started in April with the Transmission Owners and continued through the summer with leaders from three other sectors – Consumer Advocates and End Use Customers, Electric Distributors, and Generation Owners.
Board members participating in the meetings were selected for their subject matter expertise and availability.
The meetings are intended to provide opportunities for listening and information exchange. They are attended by PJM’s Chief Executive Officer and legal counsel, are restricted to publicly-posted agenda topics, and do not go into detail on matters pending before the Board. The agendas and summaries of discussions are also posted on the PJM Board Communications page to ensure transparency.
The summaries of the sector sessions, highlighted below, provide insight into the interests and priorities of each of the PJM sectors:
- Consumer Advocates and End Use Customers: Discussion focused on broad concerns including affordable, reliable and environmentally-sound electricity supply. Stakeholders stated their desire for more focus on customer value and expressed concern about the growth in supplemental transmission projects.
- Electric Distributors: Subjects included customer preferences for renewable power and distributed resources, the importance of an independent PJM Board and the continuation of the fair, unbiased stakeholder process. Oversight of supplemental projects was identified as a priority, and participants supported PJM’s role in providing independent, competitive regional planning.
- Generation Owners: Representatives emphasized how the independent power producer business model relies on wholesale market revenue and investor confidence in the market to attract capital. They offered support for markets that promote competition, drive costs lower for consumers and maximize plant operations. Out-of-market intervention, uncertainty and the ongoing revision of market rules were identified as threats.
- Transmission Owners: Representatives from six transmission owners discussed PJM’s governance and the role of PJM’s Independent Market Monitor. The discussions also highlighted PJM’s evolving markets, steps to tighten credit risk, the challenges of carbon constraints, PJM’s role in governance of supplemental projects and challenges associated with transparency.
The Board is working to schedule a meeting with the one group of stakeholders – PJM’s Other Supplier Sector – that has yet to meet with the Board.
The 90-minute meetings support PJM’s role as an independent service provider to its many stakeholders in operating the largest grid and wholesale electricity market in North America, while also recognizing the PJM Board’s role as an independent steward.
These conversations enhance the tradition of the quarterly meetings of the Liaison Committee, an institution that has long fostered candid communication between the PJM Board and stakeholder leaders. After the first round of meetings, the Board and stakeholders will evaluate the experience and determine whether these meetings should take place annually, perhaps replacing one of the four quarterly Liaison Committee meetings.