PJM Panelists Discuss Improving Regional Planning Processes at FERC

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At a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission workshop Sept. 10, PJM experts shared experience and perspectives on the optimization of transmission technology. Five industry panels, moderated by FERC representatives, focused on incentivizing grid-enhancing technology for enhancements to the long-established cost of service ratemaking framework used to recover capital investment in transmission projects.

Suzanne Glatz, Director, Strategic Initiatives and Interregional Planning – Planning, for PJM, joined the fourth panel of the day, “Exploring the Role of RTOs/ISOs in the Deployment of Transmission Technologies.” 

She said that PJM and its stakeholders are collaborating on improvements to regional planning processes to meet the changing needs of the rapidly evolving grid. These planning processes already account for the value of transmission technologies when calculating the costs and benefits. Nevertheless, PJM cautioned that any new shared savings incentive should not turn the planning process into a rate regulatory process for the Regional Transmission Organization.

“In short, PJM urges that, if adopted, this proposal’s implementation should not further complicate an already challenging regional planning process that delivers great value, particularly given the planning process’s requirement to timely address and maintain system reliability,” Glatz said in her submitted statement.

PJM remains technology agnostic when reviewing transmission proposals for reliability, efficiency and cost-effectiveness in the comprehensive regional planning process, Eric Hsia, Senior Manager – Applied Innovation, said in remarks at the fifth session, “Technical and Reliability Issues.” 

Since 2020, for example, PJM and PPL have partnered on a pilot project to comprehensively study dynamic line rating (DLR) implementation on two transmission lines. To date, studies suggest PPL’s DLR sensors will significantly mitigate congestion, eliminating the need for a market efficiency project to rebuild or construct a new transmission line.

“Although work remains to be done, this is an example of a situation where a proposed transmission technology may have obviated the need for a new or rebuilt transmission line,” Hsia said.

It is important, however, to recognize that the dynamic nature of some of the emerging technology could introduce a number of different conditions that we cannot easily study in long-term planning and system operations, Hsia noted. The industry must devote more thought to develop methods to ensure that those dynamic conditions do not pose problems. PJM’s Advanced Technology Pilot Program process allows emerging technologies to be evaluated so that their implementation challenges are identified and studied prior to widespread deployment, Hsia noted. He also stated that the Emerging Technology Forum allows all stakeholders to share in the lessons of the pilot projects and to provide feedback as they proceed. This approach minimizes system-wide risk and provides an opportunity to identify both efficiencies and deficiencies to consider when facilitating broader implementation of a new technology.