PJM, Members Review Planning Under M-3 Process

Developed in response to FERC Order 890, new method requires transparent transmission project planning by PJM Transmission Owners

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As Supplemental Project planning under the new M-3 process nears completion of a first full year’s cycle, PJM and stakeholders have reported their progress after a series of “lessons learned” meetings.

The Transmission Owners’ (TOs) local planning process, as governed by Attachment M-3 of the PJM Open Access Transmission Tariff, took effect in September 2018.

Aaron Berner, manager – Transmission Planning, in a presentation this month at the last of three Planning Committee special sessions to review the new M-3 process, listed the following improvements thus far:

  • Better consistency in modeling data submittals to enhance transparency and aid stakeholders in comparative analysis
  • New maps being rolled out that illustrate multiple, electrically close projects and how interactions might occur
  • Updated Manual 14B, with new language to help stakeholders understand how both RTEP and Supplemental Projects flow through the modeling and planning process

The new M-3 process was implemented to comply with Order 890 issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Order 890 requires regional transmission organizations to provide coordinated, open and transparent planning processes on both a local and regional level. It also mandates that stakeholders be afforded the opportunity to provide meaningful input into the process.

“PJM will continue to work with stakeholders to build on this process, which is relatively new to all of us, to make sure it provides the transparency and accountability mandated by FERC,” Ken Seiler, vice president – Planning, said in an interview.

A representative of the PJM Transmission Owners outlined for the Planning Committee steps taken by the Transmission Owners to effectuate the M-3 process thus far, and shared a draft of proposed process guidelines as well.

Under the M-3 process, the Transmission Owners are responsible for planning a series of meetings with stakeholders specific to system needs, solutions and projects to be included in the local plan. PJM’s role is to facilitate those meetings.

A presentation also was made at the final Planning Committee special session Oct. 11 reflecting the continuing concerns of consumer advocates.

Supplemental Projects are transmission system improvements identified by Transmission Owners to meet local needs not required for compliance with PJM criteria for reliability, operational performance or economic efficiency, and they are not state public policy projects.

The PJM Board of Managers do not approve Supplemental Projects. Instead, PJM conducts a do-no-harm analysis to ensure such projects do not negatively affect the reliability of the system. Supplemental Projects are included in PJM’s Regional Transmission Expansion Plan and are allocated 100 percent to the zone in which the transmission facilities are located.

In a recent letter to stakeholders, the PJM Board committed to enhancing the transparency of the Supplemental Projects processes. The Board noted that PJM does not have the authority or expertise to make asset management decisions or determine when a facility is at the end of its useful life; that is the responsibility of transmission owners. PJM, however, may be in the best position to determine regional solutions for replacing retired facilities.

Among the changes stakeholders will be seeing beginning later in October are maps that PJM will be posting at the Subregional RTEP Committee meetings. The maps will show where interactions among projects may occur. While the Oct. 11 special session was the last planned “lessons learned” meeting, Berner said PJM is considering further future education about the M-3 process for stakeholders.