Year in Review Panel Talks Future as Well as Past

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The future of PJM was as much of a topic as the accomplishments and challenges of 2018 during a “Year in Review” panel at the Annual Meeting May 7.

The panel, moderated by Chief Communications Officer Susan Buehler, featured Stu Bresler, senior vice president – Operations & Markets; Mike Bryson, vice president – Operations; Steve Herling, vice president – Planning; and Joe Bowring of Monitoring Analytics, the independent market monitor.

Planning for the future includes preparing for a rise of storage and offshore wind generation on the grid, Herling said.

PJM needs to be ready for the impact of storage and wind on the load curve, Herling said, so generation isn’t unexpectedly flooding the grid – nor is its sudden absence causing a gap that other generation resources must rapidly fill.

Reflecting on 2018

The panel also reflected on accomplishments from the last year.

PJM took steps toward enhancing transparency in the planning process, Herling said. “It’s critical that stakeholders understand the assumptions, the analyses and the decision-making process,” he said. “We’ve done a lot over the past couple of years to enhance transparency, but we understand there is a lot more that needs to be done.”

Bresler and Bowring highlighted the introduction of hourly offers and 5-minute settlements. Especially with gas, whose price can change hour to hour, these improvements have contributed to much better price signals, Bowring said.

Herling underscored the success of synching PJM’s planning models across the three divisions of planning, operations and markets – a first for the industry and the foundation of a sound grid.

Looking Toward the Future

Looking toward the future, Bresler echoed a theme reflected in the keynote by President and CEO Andy Ott: How to adapt the competitive wholesale electricity markets to accommodate state policies that subsidize certain generation for out-of-market reasons, like curbing carbon emissions, which go beyond ensuring reliability at the lowest cost.

“Markets have worked. But, on the other hand, we recognize there’s nothing magic about the Reliability Pricing Model (capacity market). It’s one option as far as resource adequacy is concerned,” he said. “At some point, maybe we ought to talk about whether there are other alternatives we should look at that could better incorporate the policy goals out there that aren’t necessarily RPM as we know it today.”

Reflecting on operations, Bryson said the challenge is preparing for the unexpected. PJM is always ready in terms of reliability. But, he said, “Each year we get surprised by a different aspect of the evolving fuel mix.”

In that vein, PJM facilitated the creation of the Fuel Security Senior Task Force, which explores if and how fuel security attributes should be incorporated into PJM’s markets.

“If they find there are not changes we need to make, we’ll at least all have a better understanding of what those scenarios are and will have looked at them,” Bryson said.

Bowring said a critical aspect for the future will be to cure uncertainty surrounding the market due to decisions awaited from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Not knowing what the future holds is beginning to affect investment in the industry, he said.

“The challenge,” he said, “is how to maintain competitive markets. How do we continue to use them to get what we all want? Reliability.”

Watch highlights from the panel below.

Board Elections

Also as part of Tuesday’s Members Committee meeting, PJM members reelected Terry Blackwell, O.H. Dean Oskvig and Mark Takahashi to three-year terms on the PJM Board of Managers.

Blackwell has 36 years of experience in power system planning and operation. Most recently, he held the position of senior vice president of Power Delivery at Santee Cooper, where he had overall responsibility for Santee Cooper’s transmission system, including compliance with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s Reliability Standards. Blackwell also served as chairman of the SERC Reliability Corporation board and served on other SERC board committees. He has a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from North Carolina State University and is a licensed professional engineer in South Carolina.

Oskvig has more than 40 years of experience within the energy industry. He served as president and chief executive officer of Black & Veatch Energy from 2006 to 2015, having been with the organization since 1975. From 1972 to 1975, he served as a base civil engineering officer in the United States Air Force. He earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Iowa and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Utah.

Takahashi most recently served as chief financial officer of Ascendant Group Limited, parent company of Bermuda Electric Light Company Limited. He previously was group director and chief financial officer of CLP Holdings Limited, one of two vertically integrated electric utility companies in Hong Kong, from 2008 to 2014, having been with the organization since 2003. He earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Colorado and Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.