PJM Presents Resilience Communications Updates to Operating Committee

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As part of its continuing updates on system resilience efforts, PJM presented an Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council initiative to ensure resilient communications after a blackout event to the Operating Committee at the meeting held March 5.

Jonathon Monken, senior director – System Resilience and Strategic Coordination, described the emergency communications system as a “gap filler” that would support essential operational functions when disruptions to traditional communication – including voice and data systems – prevent grid operators from maintaining system visibility or executing critical tasks. 

Resilience is defined by PJM as the ability to plan for, operate through and recover from catastrophic events that are not fully addressed by current reliability standards.

The initiative would assess communications technologies and systems after an event to evaluate their ability to function and reliably support the timely restoration of disrupted services. If data systems and traditional voice communication channels are down, establishing communications before the execution of black start plans is a key element in moving from restoration of critical functions to large-scale grid restoration.

The communications system would not replace existing technology nor would it be comprehensive, said Monken. It would be interoperable with, but not wholly dependent on, existing infrastructure.

Monken stressed that the communication tool would not involve the entire PJM system, only critical nodes – “a finite subset of things, a handful of functions that need to be secure.”  He compared it to the interstate highway system, with the new emergency communications process functioning similarly to the spine of Interstate 95 running down the East Coast, connecting only with other interstates such as I-495 or I-295 at intervals and not every crossroad.

Non-Retail Behind-the-Meter Generation

Also at the Operations Committee meeting, stakeholders endorsed a problem statement and issue charge for updating business rules for non-retail behind-the-meter generation (NRBTMG).

This type of generation is used by municipal electric systems, electric cooperatives, or electric distribution companies to meet their electricity demand, and does not participate as a supply resource in PJM Markets.  An entity that deploys behind-the-meter generation in this way can net or offset such operating generation against their wholesale load when calculating transmission, capacity, ancillary services and administrative fee charges.

In order for PJM staff to effectively administer NRBTMG requirements and measure operational performance, the data on NRBTMG in the PJM footprint must be current and transparent to PJM.

Since the current business rules were established in 2005, before the implementation of the Reliability Pricing Model and Capacity Performance and the integration of ATSI, DEOK and EKPC, the rules on performance and reporting requirements need to be reviewed and clarified to ensure all parties understand and are able to fulfill their responsibilities.

The Operating Committee will begin work on the problem statement and issue charge in April. In parallel, the committee is also working on fuel requirements for black start resources. The two special sessions will be scheduled the same day as the PJM Operating Committee meeting.