Plan for Needed Grid Upgrades Heads to PJM Board

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PJM and stakeholders conducted a final review of necessary grid reliability projects Tuesday before the proposal goes to the PJM Board of Managers next week for approval.

The proposal (PDF), discussed at the Transmission Expansion Advisory Committee meeting, consists of a set of projects designed to expand the regional transmission system to meet the needs of electricity demand growth and generator retirements in the PJM footprint.

PJM is preparing for significant impacts to the grid from additional demand that includes up to 7,500 MW of new data centers to be sited in Virginia and Maryland. This is combined with widespread effects from the deactivation of more than 11,000 MW of generation across the PJM footprint.

The projects that make up the proposal to be considered by the Board of Managers Dec. 11 are required to maintain the reliability of the system. If the transmission improvements are delayed, electricity customers in the region will be at risk of outages, according to PJM’s analysis.

PJM is required to plan transmission to serve the electricity demand and maintain reliability in 13 states and the District of Columbia. PJM conducts this planning with its member companies, which are also required to serve their customers.

PJM’s goal is to choose the best solution using several criteria including reliability, constructability and cost. In this case, transmission upgrades are the only solution available. PJM does not currently have the level of generation projects in its new services queue planning to come online in time.

The cost for the 2022 RTEP Window 3 solution is estimated at $5 billion. Regional transmission costs are allocated according to the Open Access Transmission Tariff provisions approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. PJM applies those provisions and methodologies to allocate the costs of the proposed transmission developments across the PJM footprint. These cost-allocation methodologies consider the system-wide overall benefits as well as benefits directly attributed to specific zones. Specific cost allocation for the proposed solution will be published by PJM following Board approval.

Solutions were solicited through the 2022 Regional Transmission Expansion Planning Window 3, administered Feb. 24 to May 31, 2023. The recommended proposal is the result of a competitive process that considered 72 submissions from 10 entities. It includes components of proposals submitted by Dominion, FirstEnergy, Exelon, PPL, NextEra, Transource and PSEG.

The proposed solution includes new substations, new transmission lines and improvements to existing facilities. A majority of the project components utilize existing facilities and rights of way (through either repurposing/rebuilding existing assets or paralleling existing rights of way, which can reduce costs and minimize impacts to local areas). There are sections that would be greenfield, or new construction on land without existing transmission lines.

The recommended proposal was selected based on four main criteria:

  • Effectiveness to meet system needs through 2028
  • Ability and flexibility to expand to meet system needs beyond 2028
  • Minimizing of local impacts by using existing rights of way, where possible
  • Confidence in costs

The projects chosen through PJM’s competitive process represent the most efficient and cost-effective projects meeting the above criteria. The developers designated by PJM are obligated to follow all local and state permitting processes to develop their projects. Those processes will weigh community impacts, such as local environmental impacts and preserved open spaces. PJM is not directly involved in these processes.

PJM’s Board has been updated over the past year on the progress of the work in Planning as well as the feedback received during the TEAC meetings and through direct contact from stakeholders. For more information, see PJM’s Role in Regional Planning/2022 RTEP Window 3 (PDF).