Grid operator PJM reports strong summer performance

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PJM Interconnection, the electric grid manager for Delaware and a dozen other states had a good summer

PJM’s Summer Operations of the PJM Grid: June 1, 2019 – Sept. 15, 2019 shows that the grid continues to have diverse and reliable electricity supplies.

The summer as a whole featured relatively mild weather, but also included a record for weekend demand of more than 150,000 MW amid a heat wave in July. The system throughout featured significantly lower generator outages and stable prices., a release noted.

Demand, or load, peaked at over 152,000 MW on July 19. PJM’s all-time, one-day highest power use was recorded in the summer of 2006 at 165,563 MW.

Michael E. Bryson, senior vice president – operations, said that the evolution of the system, characterized by sophisticated and responsive resources, enforceable performance standards and planned transmission improvements, has helped ease the stress on the grid during high summer loads. “We appreciate the cooperation and coordination with our member utility companies,” Bryson said.

“The system would not have handled these high demands as smoothly a decade ago,” said Kevin Hatch, supervisor, system operations – Dispatch. “We are seeing generators that are increasingly responsive to our operational requests, a transmission system that is more robust, and the benefits of efficient and reliable resources through the capacity market.”

No emergency procedures were called beyond Hot Weather Alerts during five-different periods throughout the summer, the lowest number of emergency procedures in the last five years. Hot Weather Alerts serve to prepare for potential capacity issues brought on by extreme hot or humid weather and accompanying high electricity demand.

PJM considers the summer period to last from June 1 to Sept. 15 each year. Much of the PJM footprint did experience unseasonably warm weather and corresponding high demand on Oct. 1 and 2,

Those events are outside the scope of this report.

The system is becoming more reliable as the capacity market incentivizes and phases in better-performing resources and capacity performance requirements – which reward resources that perform during times of system stress and penalize those that fail to perform.

The average forced outage rate of all the units in the PJM region dropped from nearly 5 percent last summer to less than 3 percent this year, the lowest rate in five years.

This is part of a larger trend of decreasing outage rates, which is driving down the required reserve requirement in PJM, reducing wholesale costs to customers. “More efficient generators mean fewer outages, greater reliability and a more efficient system overall,” Bryson said.

The fuel mix this summer was approximately 37 percent natural gas, 30 percent nuclear, 25 percent coal and 7 percent renewables.

PJM, which is based in suburban Philadelphia, is seeking a new CEO. Renewable energy advocates are urging PJM to hire a chief executive that is a stronger advocate for alternative sources.

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