PJM Interconnection Process Enhancements Evolve

New Poll Seeks Feedback to Focus Efforts

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PJM Interconnection has shared its initial thoughts on recommended critical areas for stakeholders to focus on as they work to improve and refine the interconnection processes through a series of workshops culminating in March.

At the third of four collaborative workshop sessions on Jan. 29, PJM summarized the comprehensive and diverse stakeholder feedback gathered as part of the second workshop in December.

The workshops are part of PJM’s efforts to best serve the fast-changing grid, removing process barriers to accommodate the increasing ranks of renewable resources.

The growing penetration of smaller, renewable generation resources is resulting in the rapid increase in volume of individual interconnection requests. In 2020, for example, PJM received 970 new service requests, more than double the 470 new service requests received two years prior and the most in its history. PJM’s ability to efficiently process interconnection requests is critical to the developers of those resources.

The work ahead will address how to most efficiently reduce current queue backlogs, while also looking at ways to improve the overall process for future projects.

PJM condensed into categories and ranked more than 200 stakeholder suggestions, concerns and comments from the second interconnection workshop, held Dec. 11.

The path ahead is best governed by a thoughtful, multi-faceted approach to making incremental changes and to adjusting processes as required, Kenneth Seiler, PJM Vice President – Planning, said during the third workshop.

“We are going to have productive review of your feedback and provide a complete picture of the feedback that we have received so far,” Seiler said. PJM will then offer “an idea of where we think we can effect change to improve the overall interconnection process to accommodate everybody’s needs,” he added.

In the immediate interim, PJM will:

  • File a waiver request with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on the current requirement that establishes a five-business-day period for PJM to acknowledge receipt of a New Service Request, undertake a deficiency review and more. Seeking approval for more timely review is necessary, as the bulk of new interconnection requests arrive in the week before the queue deadline.
  • Examine a potential fast-track stakeholder process to achieve some fixes required to defer the need for such FERC waivers.
  • Increase contract staffing resources to help expedite the processing of increasing interconnection queue applications, and initiate an internal pilot between Planning and Legal departments to focus resources.

For increased visibility into planning processes, PJM also drew attention to a recently posted Frequently Asked Questions document posted to PJM.com.

In preparation for the fourth and final interconnection workshop on March 5, PJM organized the interconnection process issues into 12 categories raised by stakeholders: transparency, queue window scheduling, application process, base case, studies, affected system, cost responsibility, agreements, interim operation, construction, disputes and staffing.

A number of stakeholder suggestions require no changes to PJM governing documents. Many require stakeholder collaboration and possible changes in FERC policy.

In sum, PJM-suggested areas for stakeholder collaboration are:

  1. Focus on opportunities to increase certainty for cost responsibility.
  2. Reduce the overall time projects are in the interconnection queue by focusing on improvements to the facility study phase.
  3. Collaborate for a clear path on how to obtain interim service agreement prior to completion of interconnection work.

In light of diverse stakeholder feedback, PJM is seeking further guidance and feedback via a non-binding poll to be issued in early February. This information-gathering tool will help guide next steps, asking stakeholders to rank categories in importance and identify their top issues ahead of the next workshop.