Having an interconnected system and a fleet of black start resources is key to swiftly restoring a functioning grid following a blackout or other bulk electric system disturbance, Mike Bryson, Senior Vice President – Operations, said during a June 2 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission panel discussion.
The panel explored topics such as restoration practices and prioritization; mutual assistance agreements; and spare parts inventory and sharing. It was held on the second day of the Technical Conference to Discuss Climate Change, Extreme Weather and Electric System Reliability.
“Restoration is a key part of PJM’s reliability responsibilities and is something PJM takes seriously,” Bryson said in his submitted testimony.
PJM’s role in restoration differs greatly depending on whether it is responding to an extreme weather event or a system disturbance.
Under the storm response approach, PJM focuses on supporting its transmission owners, who largely are responsible for restoring the system following a weather event. For example, PJM will help transmission owners prioritize which facilities to restore first.
The Role of Black Start Resources
A blackout or other system disruption, however, requires PJM to implement its black start system restoration approach. Black start resources are those that can start without needing to draw power from the grid. PJM has over 100 such resources available, Bryson said.
PJM’s plan seeks to ensure service to these identified quick-start resources so they can in turn energize transmission lines and restart other generators.
Black start resources also provide safe shutdown power for nuclear units and guarantee service to critical natural gas facilities needed to fuel larger generators during restoration.
In addition to PJM’s System Restoration Plan, each member transmission owner is required to develop its own restoration plan in the event one or more areas of the transmission owner’s bulk electric system shut down.
In his statement, Bryson explained the request-for-proposal process PJM employs every five years to procure black start resources, noting that units with dual-fuel capability and/or firm fuel contracts are more reliable, hence more valuable.
PJM and stakeholders have been discussing whether it is prudent to require the capability for all black start units to have dual-fuel and mandate that future black start units have dual-fuel capability, Bryson said. PJM welcomes further dialogue on the issue as well as Commission guidance, given a split among stakeholders on the matter.
The Promise of Innovative Technology
Responding to a FERC inquiry on the potential for new innovative technologies to support restoration, Bryson said that microgrids, distributed energy resources and energy storage all hold promise.
“Restoration planning in this area requires close coordination between distribution companies, transmission owners and PJM. The grid of the future can provide new opportunities to enhance restoration efforts,” he said. “But, to work effectively, incorporating distributed resources into restoration plans requires a degree of visibility, dispatchability and safety controls that ensure they can be safely and effectively deployed.”
Joining Bryson on the panel were:
- Kevin Geraghty, Chief Safety Officer & Senior Vice President of Electric Operations, San Diego Gas and Electric
- Daniel Brooks, Vice President of Integrated Grid and Energy Systems, Electric Power Research Institute
- Charles Long, Vice President of Transmission Planning and Strategy, Entergy
- Brian Slocum, Vice President of Operations, ITC Holdings
- Jodi Moskowitz, Deputy General Counsel and RTO Strategy Officer, PSEG