PJM heard diverse perspectives from generation developers, independent power producers, transmission owners, and consumer and environmental advocates about its current interconnection queue process in a daylong forum held Dec. 11.
In all, 252 participants tuned in to the second of four Interconnection Workshops.
“Today is an exciting day for us as we have an opportunity to listen to the concerns and issues about the process from our stakeholders,” said PJM’s Kenneth S. Seiler, Vice President – Planning.
The first Interconnection Workshop on Oct. 30 featured a history and overview of federal interconnection policy and detailed PJM’s long-standing processes and challenges. The Dec. 11 workshop will be followed by a third workshop, to take place on Jan. 29. At that workshop, PJM will present some responses to feedback shared by 21 presenters and commenters in writing. The fourth workshop, yet to be scheduled, will focus on next steps.
PJM’s Existing Interconnection Process
Currently, projects proposed by generation developers may undergo three studies during PJM’s interconnection process.
- The Feasibility Study assesses project practicality and cost of incorporation into the PJM system.
- The System Impact Study is a comprehensive regional analysis of the impact of adding the new generation or transmission facility to the system. This study identifies system constraints caused by the proposed generation project and outlines required local and network upgrades.
- The Facilities Study details engineering work necessary to begin construction for the interconnection request, a good-faith cost estimate and estimate of time required.
Any system upgrades (or upgrades to the transmission system) required to bring new projects into service are paid for by generation and merchant transmission developers. PJM accepts New Service Requests during a New Service Queue window open for six months. The entire process contains numerous milestones designed to be accomplished within about two years, according to PJM Manual 14A.
At the second workshop, participants responded to PJM’s call for feedback on how the process works, challenges ahead posed by increasing renewable development, their top three objectives and their suggestions for improvements.
As a “first in, first out” standardized and systematic method, PJM’s interconnection queue process faces many challenges, participants said. Due to the significantly increased volume of projects in recent years, stresses on the queue cycle produce uncertainties and in some cases, delays, for generation developers.
The number of new generation requests continues to grow – to 970 in 2020 – more than double the 470 projects submitted in 2018. And while Feasibility Studies and System Impact Studies in 2020 have been delivered mainly on schedule, Facilities Studies face significant backlog and delay.
Presenters in December noted these trends and more. One issue observed was the uncertainty created by the upcoming compliance filing required at FERC to justly implement Order 2222, which allows for the integration of DER aggregation. As market forces and state-driven public policy choices drive significant change in the resource mix, recent increases in the quantity and the flexibility afforded to interconnection customers in the interconnection queue have also slowed the process from more than two years to four years in some cases.
The workshops represent PJM’s commitment to seeing that the existing interconnection process evolves in step with industry stakeholder needs to address the management of queue volume, optimize schedules, incentivize shared upgrades and accommodate public policy.
Written comments are welcome by Jan. 6. Stakeholders can expect email instructions on how best to contribute comments in writing, said PJM’s Jen Tribulski, Senior Director – Member Services.
“The presentations were great and very focused,” she said. “Thanks to our stakeholder body for their engagement. We will take all of the feedback from today as well as those additional submittals to prepare our thoughts and response at Workshop 3.”