PJM Kicks Off Long-Term Planning Reform Workshop Series


PJM has launched a series of Long-Term Transmission Planning Reform Workshops developed in response to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s call for new planning rules for the future transmission grid.

The workshops are intended to engage stakeholders on potential reforms to address FERC’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANOPR): Building for the Future Through Electric Regional Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation and Generator Interconnection. (See PJM Responds to ANOPR on Regional Transmission Planning.)

The ANOPR asks planning authorities such as PJM what enhancements should be made to their existing long-range transmission planning approaches in order to holistically plan for the changing resource mix. The workshops, the first of which met on Feb. 8, are not intended to actually develop rule changes, but to promote dialogue and collect feedback.

Aaron Berner, Senior Manager, System Planning Process Reform and Development – reviewed the current Regional Transmission Expansion Plan process and introduced PJM’s initial thoughts on enhancement through the incorporation of probabilistic scenarios. These initial thoughts are meant to seed the discussion.

At a high level, a new approach could go beyond simply forecasting load and trying to match it with generation at five-years out, then extrapolating those needs to 10 and 15 years.

Berner described a new process that could closely analyze other drivers going out to 10 and 15 years – including state and federal policies, generation clusters and deactivations, customer preferences, extreme conditions, resilience standards and interregional needs. These variables would be built into vetted, actionable and regularly updated scenarios to be used for long-term planning.

Berner previewed a framework PJM is developing to outline potential areas of focus. He said a draft of the framework document should be available to stakeholders before the next workshop on March 8.

The challenge for transmission planners will be how to work with states and stakeholders to avoid building too much or too little transmission, narrowing down a vast number of future scenarios to determine those that could be deemed actionable for purposes of integrating new generation.

Berner said scenarios would be developed by defining input parameters and associated thresholds based on a set of drivers. A series of decision-making criteria would next be used to sort the myriad scenarios into actionable forecasts of future needs and a reasoned justification for a directive to build new transmission, or upgrade existing transmission.

The current system of planning that spans the next 15 years looks mostly at load, scaling generation to meet it.

Under the new scheme, planning into the next five to eight years would still be based on deterministic modeling based on existing conditions and data, following bright-line criteria for thermal, voltage and load-drop conditions. The more probabilistic approach would be layered in for the eight- to 15-year time frame. PJM is seeking feedback from stakeholders, including on how to best develop clear criteria for determining the trigger for when competitive solicitation for projects should start versus waiting until some of the uncertainties are clear.