The transition to PJM’s new interconnection process begins July 10, setting the stage for more than 260,000 MW of mostly renewable projects to be studied over the next three years.
More than 95% of the projects requesting grid connection are renewables or batteries, or a hybrid of both.
“In collaboration with stakeholders, PJM has made landmark reforms to its interconnection process. We recognized how critical it was to improve the process to move new projects through the planning queue, and those reforms are about to begin,” said Ken Seiler, Vice President – Planning.
The reforms are a culmination of collaboration between PJM and stakeholders to create a plan to streamline generation interconnection requests, improve project cost certainty, and significantly improve the process by which new and upgraded generation resources are introduced onto the electrical grid.
Among other reforms, the process moves from a “first-come, first-served” queue approach to a “first-ready, first-served” cycle method. It includes decision points along the way at which the developers must submit readiness deposits and demonstrate site control, or withdraw their projects. These requirements are expected to weed out the large number of speculative projects that have contributed to existing backlogs.
Starting on July 10, PJM will open a 60-day window for developers in transition to post the readiness requirements. In September, PJM will update its models with those generators qualifying to enter the transition and begin processing projects with no or minimal system impacts that qualify for a “fast-lane” process.
PJM also created the new Queue Scope tool, which enables developers to better assess the engineering and financial impacts of a project at various locations on their own before they formally enter PJM’s interconnection queue. This should save them, particularly smaller developers, time and money and result in more viable projects to be studied by PJM.
FERC approved the interconnection process reforms on Nov. 29, 2022.
While the reforms should process enough megawatts to handle PJM’s peak summer demand, Seiler noted in a recent column his concern that projects are making it through the queue but not getting built. About 44,000 MW of projects have completed the PJM study process but have yet to move to construction, due to siting, financing, supply chain, or other issues. In 2023, less than 2,200 MW of projects have come online; in 2022, that number was 2,000 MW.
“Our transition plan should process enough interconnection requests to make up for retiring thermal generators – now, we just have to work together to make sure these new projects come online,” Seiler said.
By the end of 2024, PJM expects to have cleared about 62,000 MW for connection, another 100,000 MW by the end of 2025, and an additional 100,000 MW by the end of 2026.
The PJM system’s current total capacity is about 184,000 MW.
Additional information and frequently asked questions about the transition to the new interconnection process can be found on the Interconnection Process Reform web page.