Planning Committee OKs Study of Future Offshore Generation Interconnection

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The Planning Committee unanimously endorsed a problem statement Thursday to study new options for developers to propose transmission facilities for interconnecting future offshore generation.

PJM’s current interconnection process does not allow developers of merchant alternating current (AC) transmission lines without generation at the end to request Capacity Interconnection Rights (CIRs). It also does not provide for capturing the scope and cost of network upgrades required to use the lines for their anticipated purpose, said Suzanne Glatz, director – Infrastructure Planning, in her presentation.

CIRs are granted only to interconnection customers who connect generation through a single point of interconnection.

Merchant transmission developers, looking toward a future of offshore wind farms that may be connected to an ocean grid, have approached PJM requesting a way in which they, too, may acquire equivalent rights for their offshore transmission investment.

Steve Herling, vice president – Planning, said any new category of rights would likely be a partial set of those typically acquired by generation developers through the current process. The merchant AC lines could only be tested for certain characteristics, such as thermal capability, until they were put into service with quantified generation, he said.

It is possible that newly defined interconnection rights could be granted on an interim basis, or designed to be converted to CIRs later, once the lines are fully studied, Glatz said.

The aim of the stakeholder study will be to identify the unique aspects of developing transmission facilities for offshore generation that may be different from the needs of onshore projects, she said.

The problem statement includes four elements:

  • Enabling interconnection customers proposing transmission projects for undefined future offshore generation to request some rights equivalent to CIRs
  • Studying the impacts of the anticipated injection on the transmission system
  • Capturing not only the scope and cost of connecting the radial line to an existing transmission owner facility – as the process calls for now – but also that of required network upgrades
  • Allowing future flexibility to connect transmission facilities together for an “ocean grid”

The first phase of study will be on a single radial line. That work is expected to result in recommendations to the Planning Committee as early as July.

The timing of the second phase, which would look at the ocean grid concept of radial transmission lines being connected offshore, would depend on the results of the first phase.