PJM Board of Managers Approves Critical Grid Upgrades

Projects Focused on System Reliability Amid Growing Electricity Demand, Generator Retirements

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The PJM Board of Managers has approved a set of proposed projects to expand the regional transmission system to accommodate electricity demand growth, generator retirements and future capacity needs in the area PJM serves across 13 states and the District of Columbia.

The grid enhancements approved Dec. 11 are required to maintain reliability as PJM prepares for significant impacts to the grid from up to 7,500 MW of new data centers to be sited in Virginia and Maryland, combined with widespread effects from the deactivation of more than 11,000 MW of generation.

The estimated cost of the combined upgrades is approximately $5 billion. Full details of the projects are posted on PJM.com through the 2022 RTEP Window 3 Transmission Expansion Advisory Committee Recommendations to the PJM Board (PDF) paper, approved by the Board today.

PJM is required to plan transmission to reliably serve the electricity needs of 65 million customers. Projects to solve the defined needs were solicited through the 2022 Regional Transmission Expansion Planning Window 3, which was administered Feb. 24 to May 31, 2023.

The recommended proposal is the result of a competitive process that considered 72 submissions from 10 entities. It combines components of proposals submitted by Dominion, FirstEnergy, Exelon, PPL, NextEra, Transource and PSEG. The transmission projects were also chosen to be scalable as needed to meet additional electricity generation and/or demand in the future.

The proposed solution includes new substations, new transmission lines and improvements to existing facilities. A majority of the project components use existing facilities and rights of way (through either repurposing/rebuilding existing assets or paralleling existing rights of way, which can reduce costs and minimize impacts to local areas). There are sections that would be new construction on land without existing transmission lines, known as greenfield development.

PJM does not site the facilities or transmission lines nor determine their routes. This is the next step in the process and will be completed by the developers designated by PJM to construct the projects.

The recommended proposal was selected based on four main criteria:

  • Effectiveness to meet system needs through 2028
  • Ability and flexibility to expand to meet system needs beyond 2028
  • Minimizing of local impacts by using existing rights of way, where possible
  • Risks to costs and schedule

Regional transmission costs are allocated according to PJM’s Open Access Transmission Tariff provisions approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. These cost-allocation methodologies consider the system-wide overall benefits as well as benefits directly attributed to specific zones.

The process leading up to the Board’s approval lasted approximately 10 months, beginning with public posting of the 2022 RTEP Window 3 modeling information in February, a special meeting of the Transmission Expansion Advisory Committee (TEAC) in April, public posting information for all 72 submitted proposals in June, and additional vetting at the monthly meetings of the TEAC, with the finalists and selected solution discussed at TEAC meetings on Oct. 3, Oct. 31 and Dec. 5.

PJM’s Board has been updated over the past year on the progress of the work in Planning as well as the feedback received during the TEAC meetings and through direct contact from stakeholders.

For more information, see PJM’s Role in Regional Planning/2022 RTEP Window 3 (PDF).