PJM Prepares for Ocean Grid of the Future

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PJM is preparing for the interconnection of a future ocean grid of offshore generation as more Eastern states eye the waters off their coasts in a quest for clean energy.

Transmission developers have expressed interest in designing transmission facilities that would allow these prospective wind farms to connect to the bulk power grid, Suzanne Glatz, director – Infrastructure Planning, told the Planning Committee Jan. 10.

The current process does not provide an option for merchant transmission developers to submit projects to serve anticipated future generation, such as the offshore wind farms currently being explored but not formally proposed and part of the PJM queue. Transmission developers want to be able to obtain Capacity Interconnection Rights (CIRs) or their equivalent, which would require PJM to identify any network upgrades necessary to support this future generation.

Incorporating these requests in the process would enable PJM to study the impacts of anticipated injection on the transmission system as well as the scope and cost of required upgrades, Glatz said in her presentation.

Glatz presented the first step in the form of a problem statement and issue charge. If adopted by the committee at its next meeting Feb. 7, the issue would be explored during the group’s regular sessions.

The topic would be studied in two phases:

  1. Consider process changes to allow interconnection customers to request CIRs for a radial line and identify the impacts and required network upgrades.
  2. Consider process changes to allow the flexibility for interconnection customers to connect transmission facilities together for an ocean grid.

Exploring Phase 1 options would be expected to take the committee into July, Glatz said, with endorsement of potential process changes sought as early as September.

Glatz asked members for feedback on the approach before the Feb. 7 meeting.

Cost Containment Update

Also at the meeting, Mark Sims, manager – Infrastructure Coordination, presented an update on the implementation status of the cost containment protocol for competitive transmission projects approved in June by the Members Committee.

Sims said PJM is in the process of developing a comparative framework for construction costs, work that is expected to continue until September.

Such a matrix will help planners evaluate the cost risks inherent in the myriad components of competing proposals.

“For certain risks, a cost cap may address them very well, but there may be certain risks that, by nature, the cost cap can’t handle,” Sims said.

The comparative framework also will enable greater transparency for stakeholders in PJM’s decision-making process, he said.

New Service Request Deficiency Review

Members who submit an interconnection request near the end of a queue would receive more time to correct a deficiency, under a problem statement presented by Susan McGill, manager – Interconnection Analysis.

Currently, interconnection customers have 10 business days to resolve deficiencies in their request identified by PJM. At the same time, deficiencies must be cleared by the last day of the queue. That means requesters who submit five or fewer days before the end of the queue may not have enough time to cure deficiencies.

Removing one sentence that appears six times in the Tariff would give all customers 10 days to cure deficiencies on their project, McGill said.

PJM will request endorsement of the change next month and, if approved, a filing to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission could be made by June.

“This would provide a lot of value to customers,” McGill said. “We want to make the process more customer-friendly for those generators who have made a simple mistake at the end of the queue.”