PJM Releases 2021 Annual Planning Report

Compilation Highlights Planning for Offshore Wind and the Grid of the Future


PJM today published its 2021 Regional Transmission Expansion Plan Report, which highlights the transmission projects approved during 2021 by the PJM Board of Managers in addition to the work PJM is doing to plan for the grid of the future.

PJM’s Regional Transmission Expansion Plan (RTEP) process identifies transmission system additions and improvements needed for reliable grid operations now and in the future for the 65 million people in the PJM footprint. PJM collaborates with members to anticipate and plan for reliability criteria violations, operational performance requirements and market efficiency constraints to ensure reliable electric service at the lowest reasonable cost in 13 states and the District of Columbia.

Baseline Transmission Projects

In 2021, the PJM Board approved $920 million in 118 baseline transmission projects in three main categories:

  • 23%, or $213 million, of projects were prompted by 52 generator deactivations or retirements.
  • 25%, or $229 million, of projects were driven by PJM and NERC criteria.
  • 52%, or $478 million, of projects were driven by transmission owner criteria.

As PJM-wide load growth remained below 1%, large-scale transmission projects topping 345 kV and higher are still uncommon. Approved projects in 2021 instead responded to diverse needs, including

  • Reliability and resilience criteria, such as upgrades to, or replacement of, aging equipment and facilities
  • Accommodation of generator deactivations
  • Planning for localized reliability needs
  • Minimization of system congestion for market efficiency

PJM Prepares for New Generation Resources

The PJM RTEP planning process also tests the strength of the existing transmission network against requests by generators poised to connect to the grid. To meet PJM and NERC criteria and prepare for reliable connection of new generation capacity, the Board in 2021 approved 34 network system enhancement projects totaling more than $47 million.

Offshore Wind

The injection of thousands of megawatts from offshore wind will fundamentally change how power flows over the transmission grid in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. In 2021, PJM planned for this transmission expansion in concert with state policies supporting renewable resources and offshore wind. PJM also partnered with other grid operators, notably New York ISO and ISO New England, for sound offshore wind interregional planning scenarios. Finally, these regional planning efforts reference new federal policy goals that aim to achieve 30 GW of operational offshore wind by 2030.

In 2021, PJM assessed transmission needs as part of the Offshore Wind Transmission Study Phase 1. In the study, PJM examined five scenarios, in consultation with states, to reliably accommodate up to 14,268 MW of new offshore wind resources. Coordinated planning efforts like this help identify the most efficient, economic transmission solutions and inform ongoing use of the PJM’s State Agreement Approach with New Jersey.

Queue Highlights:

  • In 2021, PJM received 1,351 new service requests, nearly triple the number of requests logged in 2018.
  • Since 2019, the number of solar generation requests has tripled and currently makes up 58% of the interconnection queue.
  • PJM actively studied 139,937 MW of generation interconnection requests last year. This magnitude nearly equals PJM’s all-time winter peak.
  • PJM processed 1,351 requests to interconnect new generations with a total 104,316 MW nameplate capacity in 2021.

Interconnection Queue Reform

PJM’s interconnection queue continues to grow in record numbers, a reflection of burgeoning interest and investment in renewable resources.

Efficient processing of interconnection requests is critical to the needs of our fast-changing bulk electric system. Within PJM’s stakeholder process, the Planning Committee unanimously endorsed PJM’s new interconnection process package of improvements last year. Interconnection process reform continues in the stakeholder process in 2022. If approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, these efforts are expected to reduce current queue backlogs and improve and refine the overall process for future interconnection requests.

Grid of the Future

Looking ahead, the 2021 RTEP report highlights areas of planning and study. These efforts combine to explore reliability and resilience scenarios for a Grid of The Future Roadmap. This builds on the foundation of PJM’s prior energy transition analysis and offshore wind studies:

  • 2022 transmission build-out scenarios studies examine the need for grid expansion driven by retiring coal and nuclear and replacement by natural gas and renewables. The changing generation fleet will drive transmission investment to ensure that energy can be delivered to the load centers. Generator deliverability methodologies will identify NERC and PJM reliability criteria violations in light of renewable resources’ intermittency. Conditions to be studied include need during the summer and winter peaks and by time of day.
  • Targeted reliability studies evaluate reliability attributes such as reactive control, stability, system inertia, frequency control and short-circuit impacts as a result of the changing generation fleet. 
  • RTEP process enhancements continue with modeling of wind and solar impacts, using Effective Load-Carrying Capability methodology and planning for resilience.
  • Additional regulatory action is expected in 2022, including criteria for reliability and resilience in light of extreme events, electrification of buildings and transportation, changes resulting from interconnection process reform, and expansion of distributed energy resources.

Read more in the 2021 report.