PJM Releases 2020 Annual Planning Report

Review Highlights Increase in Renewables and Collaboration with MISO, States

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The PJM Board of Managers in 2020 approved 43 baseline transmission projects to ensure fundamental system reliability across the grid, as detailed in PJM’s annual Regional Transmission Expansion Plan Report, released Thursday, March 4.

The projects are estimated to cost $413 million. The Board also approved 55 network transmission projects, required to secure the reliable delivery of generation seeking interconnection to PJM markets. Those projects are expected to cost about $101 million.

The RTEP report documents the critical regional planning work that is one of PJM’s three core functions, along with daily operations and running the competitive wholesale electricity markets.

PJM publishes the RTEP report annually to convey planning study results from throughout the year, provide context for these studies and explain the rationale behind regional transmission system needs.

PJM Collaborates with MISO, States; Renewables Grow

Among the highlights of the report, the boards of PJM and MISO approved the first interregional market efficiency transmission project – the replacement of the Michigan City-Trail Creek-Bosserman 138-kV line – based on a competitive planning process.

Also notable is that by the end of 2020, renewables in PJM’s interconnection queue exceeded other fuels, with 88 percent of more than 140,000 MW reflecting wind, solar and storage resources. Solar requests more than doubled over the previous year, growing to 56 percent of PJM’s queue.

In another first, PJM and New Jersey announced the initiation of the State Agreement Approach to develop public policy-driven transmission to satisfy state offshore wind power objectives. (See FERC Accepts PJM and NJ BPU State Agreement Approach Study Agreement)

Overall, more than 1,960 MW of units across all fuel types reached commercial operation in PJM last year, including a pilot offshore wind project in Virginia.

Load-Growth Rate Remains Flat, Forecasting Improves

Amid a continuing flat load-growth rate, the majority of baseline projects (64 percent, or $264 million) were driven by transmission-owner criteria violations. Another 22 percent were related to generator deactivations. The remaining 14 percent grew out of North American Electric Reliability Corporation, transmission owner and PJM baseline criteria.

The forecasted load-growth rate remained at a 10-year PJM-wide summer, normalized peak growth rate of 0.6 percent.

PJM’s Installed Reserve Margin for the 2021/2022 Delivery Year declined from 15.1 percent to 14.7 percent, driven by ongoing improvement in generator forced-outage rates, particularly for natural gas-powered, combined-cycle units.

Load forecasting improvements continued in 2020, focusing on reducing summer and winter forecast error, with refinements to both customer sector and non-weather-sensitive model components.

Effect of COVID-19 on Load Relents

This work occurred as planners also fine-tuned short-term forecast modeling to take into account changes related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic had an immediate and significant impact on PJM load beginning in mid-March 2020 –reducing energy demand by more than 10 percent at its most severe level in the spring – and subsiding during the summer. The total negative impact on energy usage in 2020 related to the pandemic was estimated to be about 5 percent.

Interconnection Planning Studies

In 2020, PJM processed 1,028 requests to interconnect new generation. They represented 70,375 MW nameplate capability and 44,179 MW of capacity interconnection rights, which are necessary to sell electricity into the PJM capacity market.

In all, 1,424 feasibility/impact and facilities studies were conducted and issued to developers.

PJM received 22 deactivation notifications, representing 4,428 MW. Twenty-nine units, totaling 3,300 MW, formally retired in 2020.

A History of Grid Improvement

RTEP studies test the transmission system against the NERC mandatory national standards as well as PJM regional standards. The studies look from one to 15 years into the future to identify transmission overloads, voltage limitations and other potential problems stemming from violations of reliability standards and other factors.

Proposals for new generators or transmission resources to connect to the grid also are evaluated through PJM’s planning process, as are proposed generation retirements. Analyses assess their impact to the grid and the potential need for additional transmission enhancements.

Since their implementation, PJM markets have attracted generation proposals totaling over 673,000 MW of nameplate capacity across all fuel types.

The PJM Board has approved transmission system enhancements totaling over $37.8 billion.

Of this, $31.3 billion represents baseline projects. Another $6.5 billion represents network facilities to enable nearly 90,000 MW of new generation to interconnect reliably.