PJM Emission Data Sparks Innovative Approach to Reduce Carbon Footprint


A new public data stream released by PJM in September is already being used to spark innovative ways to reduce the carbon footprint for companies.

General Motors Co. (GM), in partnership with PJM member TimberRock, announced plans last week to utilize the PJM marginal emission rates data to help GM reach 100% renewable energy to power its operations by 2025 – five-years earlier than previously announced.

PJM began publishing the marginal emission data on Sept. 9, responding to requests made by TimberRock and others. TimberRock, a software provider that helps organizations account for and reduce their energy emissions, has shared its plans with PJM stakeholders through the PJM Emerging Technologies Forum, where stakeholders learn about and explore new and innovative technologies and programs that work toward a more efficient system.

As operator of the nation’s largest power grid, PJM acts as an independent and reliable provider of data for a power system that serves 65 million people in 13 states and the District of Columbia.

The marginal emission data, published every five minutes through PJM’s Data Miner tool, provides the weighted emission rate of the marginal units for carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Marginal units are those that would increase or decrease output in response to an increase or decrease in demand. In some situations, the marginal units, and hence the marginal emission rates, can provide an indication of what would happen based on a change in consumer behavior.

TimberRock’s software advises clients on the most emission-efficient times to run their operations, based on PJM’s data stream. During times of high emissions by the marginal generating unit, a reduction in power consumption or the use of stored energy by the company would reduce emissions in GM’s operations according to the company. GM said the initiative is expected to eventually expand to include the carbon emissions associated with customers’ electric vehicles.

“PJM is committed to reliably and cost-effectively facilitating the decarbonization ambitions of its states and stakeholders, including consumers and industry, while fostering innovative ways to get there,” said Eric Hsia, Senior Manager – Applied Innovation at PJM. “This is a good example of how PJM can optimize our subject matter expertise and make data available to help inform stakeholders and policymakers about conditions on the system.”

The marginal emission rate data stream is publicly available on PJM’s Data Miner tool. The development of this data source was the work of PJM alone, not under any special relationship with GM or TimberRock. Rather, consultation with the companies was used to help PJM gain insight into the value of emissions-related data in helping customers advance their decarbonization goals and other objectives.

Emerging Technologies Forum

Research and information sharing toward the development of new resources like this continue in PJM’s Emerging Technologies Forum (ETF).

Since 2020, the ETF has provided education about emerging grid technologies; explored issues concerning operations, planning and markets; and provided updates and recommendations to PJM senior committees.

Activities of the ETF support PJM’s Advanced Technology Pilot Program, a platform to study the viability of integrating emerging technologies that may enhance system reliability, operational and market efficiency, and resilience. The ETF is open to all members, entities proposing emerging technologies for integration within the PJM region, members, policymakers, advocates and the public.

The ETF featured a presentation by TimberRock on Sept. 1, about the company’s carbon dioxide tracking platforms. These software tools digitize, aggregate and optimize information, including PJM’s marginal emission rates data, in service to GM’s renewable energy goals.