PJM Marks 90th Anniversary with Federal, State Officials

Andy Ott and Robert Powelson of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

PJM marked its anniversary Friday, celebrating its work behind the scenes for the past 90 years to ensure that the nation’s largest power grid is reliable and its wholesale power prices are competitive.

Light shined on PJM’s accomplishments at a celebration with U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, industry leaders and state and federal regulators, including Commissioner Robert Powelson of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, who joined in to observe the milestone.

Denis O’Brien presents Andy Ott with a copy of the PECO Crown Lights. The Crown Lights are a Philadelphia tradition.

Notable among the crowd were the current CEOs of the three pioneering electric companies that laid the foundation for PJM.

“In September 1927, PECO, PPL and PSEG collaborated to bring to life an ingenious idea – a power pool,” said PJM CEO and President Andy Ott. “This is a historic day for PJM. Today, we honor our employees, our history, our members and most importantly the tremendous responsibility we share with members to keep the lights on for 65 million people in 13 states and the District of Columbia.”

A 1925 cost-benefit analysis of the proposed Pennsylvania-New Jersey Interconnection predicted the magnitude of benefits, saying, “The economies of the interconnection would be considerable and the advantages many.” At the time, the estimated annual net savings of operating collaboratively were $3 million.

Ott pointed out that today PJM’s regional coordination saves people about $3 billion annually.

Ott noted that, as the first organized power market, PJM created a competitive market that is now the industry standard.

“The founders of PJM could never have envisioned in 1927, or even 1997, what we’ve grown into. As an industry, we’ve moved forward and will continue to evolve. PJM has gone from the basement of PECO to be an industry leader.”

The current CEOs of the founding companies made remarks on their shared history and the value PJM brings to the industry and to consumers.

Left to right, Spence, Ott, O’Brien, Izzo.

Denis O’Brien, senior executive vice president of Exelon Corp. and CEO of Exelon Utilities, presented PJM with a photo of the Philadelphia skyline with a message that scrolled in lights at the top of the PECO building: “Congratulations PJM Interconnection Working to Perfect the Flow of Electricity for 90 yrs!”

O’Brien was joined by William Spence, chairman, president and CEO of PPL Corp., and Ralph Izzo, chairman, president and CEO of Public Service Enterprise Group.

O’Brien cited PJM’s longtime connection to PECO. Spence talked of the evolution of the grid from a patchwork of isolated power providers: “It’s hard to imagine life without the electricity we provide.”  Izzo said the partnership has lasted through war and the Great Depression and the mission is as important now as it was then.

PJM received other recognitions for the anniversary, including a congratulatory message from Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf and special recognitions on the floor of the U.S. Senate from Sens. Pat Toomey and Bob Casey, who could not attend in person. Rep. Costello presented a tribute read on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Left to right: William Spence, Gladys Brown, Denis O’Brien, Andy Ott, Robert Powelson, Ryan Costello, Richard Mroz and Ralph Izzo.

Costello cited his work on the House Energy and Commerce Committee as a reference point.

“It’s a particular source of pride,” said Costello, “that when we are at a Power Subcommittee meeting, who does everybody listen to? It’s the folks at PJM. You are out front, wrestling with the complexities and challenges. “

He said that PJM, as one of his constituent companies, does “remarkable public good. I thank you for your leadership. Perfecting the flow of energy is more than just a slogan; it’s a mission.”

Richard Mroz, president of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities; Gladys Brown, chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission; and  FERC Commissioner Robert Powelson also made remarks on PJM’s contribution to the industry.

“Since its inception in 1927, PJM has played a critical role in managing our bulk power system. From withstanding catastrophic weather events to maintaining grid security, PJM continues to bring value and reliability to consumers across the 13-state compact that it serves,” said Powelson.

“Congratulations to PJM for keeping the lights on and ‘doing the boring well’ for the past 90 years.”

The event also recognized the 20th anniversary of PJM becoming a federally recognized transmission grid operator.

That year, 1997, PJM created its competitive wholesale power market. The market, now a model used around the world, leverages competition to reduce costs, increase efficiencies and foster innovation in the electric industry.