PJM Interconnection members have overwhelmingly endorsed plans to speed up generation interconnection requests, improve project cost certainty, and significantly improve the process by which new and upgraded generation resources are introduced onto the electrical grid in 13 states and the District of Columbia.
The Members Committee on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly in favor of the new process and transition plan expected to go into effect in the last quarter of 2022 or the first quarter of 2023.
The proposals are the result of intensive work over the past year by PJM and a broad group of stakeholders – including renewable resource developers, transmission owners, state and consumer interests, and others – to reach consensus on changes. A record number of companies participated in the stakeholder task force that crafted the proposals.
PJM plans to file the proposal with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in May.
“These changes represent a landmark accomplishment for PJM stakeholders and staff that establishes a better process to handle the unprecedented influx of generation interconnection requests and is critical to clearing the backlog of projects,” said PJM President and CEO Manu Asthana. “We remain committed to our strategy of facilitating decarbonization policies while preserving reliability and cost-effectiveness and will continue to work on issues raised by stakeholders during deliberations that were not part of the package.”
As a result of the rapid growth in renewable generation development, the number of projects entering the New Services Queue has nearly tripled over the past four years. PJM entered 2022 with nearly 2,500 projects under study, with more than 95% of approximately 225,000 proposed megawatts coming from renewable or storage resources or hybrids of those two. PJM studies more projects for interconnection annually than any other grid operator.
PJM’s proposal includes a two-year transition to work through the current backlog by prioritizing more than 1,200 projects submitted before 2021. The transition includes a “fast lane,” which would prioritize about 450 projects.
Some of the aspects of the new process that are designed to create a faster, more efficient process include:
- Projects will be addressed on a first-ready, first-served basis rather than first come, first served. Improvements to procedures around required permitting and site control will help reduce the current backlog of projects in the queue that may hold up other queued projects.
- PJM is simplifying its analysis of the cost responsibility of individual projects by clustering projects within the same cycle. In addition, improvements have been proposed to reduce the number of restudies for project changes.
- Projects that don’t contribute to the need for network upgrades and/or don’t need facilities studies will be able to proceed to a final agreement early.
“These improvements are critical to handle the influx of interconnection requests we have seen in recent years and will see for the foreseeable future,” said Ken Seiler, Vice President – Planning. “This plan represents a real compromise among many different interests to get renewable and other projects through the queue as fast as possible and give developers a clearer picture of their costs and timelines.” The proposal was first endorsed by the Markets and Reliability Committee Wednesday by a sector-weighted vote of 4.37 out of 5.0 (87% equivalent) and then by 4.52 out of 5.0 (90% equivalent) in the Members Committee. The proposed interconnection process reform plan overview is available at PJM.com.