PJM Panelists Highlight Transmission Planning and Resilience Focus at NARUC Annual Meeting

1314

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners convened its Annual Meeting Nov. 7 through Nov. 10 with the theme Connecting the Dots: Innovative/Disruptive Technology and Regulation.

PJM subject matter experts took part in two panel sessions as part of the four-day hybrid virtual and in-person event. The conference’s keynotes and panels spanned key regulatory topics including decarbonization, regulatory innovation, cybersecurity, resilience and transmission system investment.

Transmission Planning for the Future

Asim Haque, PJM Vice President – State and Member Services, took part in a panel that discussed the critical role that state commissions play in investing, developing and deploying transmission system upgrades.

Haque’s comments centered on PJM’s recently filed comments with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in response to an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on regional transmission planning.

He noted that as PJM plans for the grid of the future, it believes four guiding principles should govern transmission planning reform:

  • Facilitating decarbonization: While ensuring a reliable, resilient transmission grid, planning processes should accommodate the nation’s move toward a more decarbonized future by effectively implementing local, state and federal policies as well as the desire of customers for reduced carbon electricity.
  • Grid resilience: It is imperative the Commission put in place a common working definition of resilience, as well as resilience-based industry planning drivers to ensure the grid is prepared to withstand or quickly recover from events that pose operational risks.
  • Protecting consumers: Any cost allocation method changes must not result in an unreasonable shift of cost or risk to consumers.
  • Equitable treatment of RTO and non-RTO regions: Any planning reform should be implemented consistently across the nation and should not create disincentives for transmission owners to participate in RTOs.

“PJM’s generation interconnection queue has more than quadrupled over the past four years, particularly with many smaller renewable energy generation projects. Following through on each of these outlined principles will help to ensure a transmission planning process that’s prepared for the future,” Haque said.

Resilience in Focus

Chris Pilong, Director – Operations Planning at PJM, provided insights on a panel about resilience and what can be learned about utility interdependencies following the February 2021 freeze across the South. The session provided the opportunity for panelists to discuss how their organizations plan for scenarios that may trigger large-scale outages and the loss of numerous assets.

According to Pilong, PJM’s planning process forecasts extreme demand on the system and also simulates what could happen if things fail.

“We augment these ‘what if’ scenarios based on actual events – hurricanes, gas pipeline failures, high speed wind events – to best plan how we prepare for, operate through and recover from challenges we may face,” Pilong said.

Additionally, he noted an ongoing increase in interdependency within the sector.

“A great deal of the planning that we do is in real-time operations. Not only are we working across our adjacent regional transmission organizations, but more broadly thinking about the connection we have with utilities and other entities. For example, we have greatly expanded our planning with the natural gas industry especially as it relates to cold weather preparedness,” he said.

In closing, Pilong discussed a deep and ongoing focus on resilience efforts across the industry. 

“Through our stakeholder process, we are continually exploring new technologies and ways to be more efficient with existing resources in a broad effort to drive increased resiliency.”