PJM Files Interconnection Process Reform With FERC

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A proposal to significantly improve the process by which new and upgraded generation resources connect to the grid has been filed by PJM with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The proposed revised study process (PDF) is designed to streamline the connection of new generation to PJM’s grid and give developers greater cost certainty for their projects while maintaining the reliability of the system. All projects seeking interconnection into the PJM system must undergo detailed power engineering studies to make sure the project does not impact the reliability of the electric grid.

The proposal, widely supported by PJM stakeholders, was the result of intensive work by the Interconnection Process Reform Task Force begun in April 2021.

Exponential Growth in New Projects Spurs Change

PJM, which serves customers in 13 states and Washington, D.C., annually studies more proposed interconnection projects than any other grid operator.

As renewable generation development has soared, the type of new projects has shifted from a limited number of large resources to hundreds of smaller renewable energy projects. As a result, the number of projects entering PJM’s New Services Queue has nearly tripled over the past four years.

PJM began 2022 with nearly 2,500 projects under study. More than 95% of more than 225,000 proposed megawatts of generation are wind and solar, storage facilities, or hybrids of solar or wind with batteries.

A proposed transition plan would prioritize about half of these projects, including a “fast-lane” process for some 450 projects to help clear the existing backlog. The PJM filing of June 14 requests FERC approval by Oct. 3, with the goal of implementing this transition phase by early next year.

Proposed Process Improvements

Expected to begin in 2024, proposed new interconnection study processes are designed to expedite planning studies in multiple ways:

  • Projects will be addressed on a first-ready, first-served basis rather than first come, first-served. The addition of requirements, including readiness deposits, and improvements to procedures around site control will help ensure that queued projects are ready to move forward.
  • Analysis of cost responsibility of individual projects is simplified by clustering projects within the same cycle. In addition, proposed improvements reduce the number of restudies required when proposed projects are changed or modified.
  • Projects that do not contribute to the need for network upgrades and/or don’t need further studies will be able to proceed more quickly to a final interconnection agreement.