Home Delaware PJM members approve plan to speed up solar-wind project reviews

PJM members approve plan to speed up solar-wind project reviews

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PJM Interconnection members endorsed plans to speed up consideration of new solar and wind projects.

The Members Committee of the regional grid manager this week voted overwhelmingly in favor of the new process and transition plan expected to go into effect in the last quarter of 2022 or the first quarter of 2023. PJM members include utilities in a large area of the East Coast and Midwest.

The proposals are the result of work over the past year by PJM and a group of stakeholders – including renewable resource developers, transmission owners, state and consumer interests, and others – to reach a consensus. A record number of companies participated in the stakeholder task force.

PJM plans to file the proposal with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in May. 

PJM faces challenges in tying large wind and solar projects to the grid, while at the same time dealing with the closing of coal-fired power plants. One example is the planned closing of the last coal-fired unit of the Indian River power plant in Sussex County and how that change would affect the grid in that area.

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Also coming are large offshore wind projects off the Maryland and Delaware coasts, with the strong possibility that a power line from the Skipjack wind project will come ashore at the Indian River power plant site.

“These changes represent a landmark accomplishment for PJM stakeholders and staff that establishes a better process to handle the unprecedented influx of generation interconnection requests and is critical to clearing the backlog of projects,” said CEO Manu Asthana. “We remain committed to our strategy of facilitating decarbonization policies while preserving reliability and cost-effectiveness and will continue to work on issues raised by stakeholders during deliberations that were not part of the package.”

As a result of the rapid growth in renewable generation development, the number of projects entering the New Services Queue has nearly tripled over the past four years.

PJM entered 2022 with 2,500 projects under study, with more than 95% of approximately 250 gigawatts coming from renewable or storage resources or hybrids of the two. PJM studies more projects for interconnection annually than any other grid operator.

PJM’s proposal includes a two-year transition to work through the current backlog by dealing with more than 1,200 projects submitted before 2021. The transition includes a “fast lane,” which would put a priority on about 450 projects. 

Some of the aspects of the new process that are designed to create a faster, more efficient process include:

  • – Projects addressed on a first-ready, first-served basis rather than first-come, first served.
  • – Improvements to procedures around required permitting and site control will help reduce the current backlog of projects in the queue that may hold up other queued projects. 
  • PJM simplifying its analysis of the cost responsibility of individual projects by clustering projects within the same cycle. In addition, improvements have been proposed to reduce the number of restudies for project changes.
  • Projects that don’t contribute to the need for grid upgrades and/or don’t need facilities studies will be able to proceed to a final agreement earlier

“These improvements are critical to handle the influx of interconnection requests we have seen in recent years and will see for the foreseeable future,” said Ken Seiler, Vice President – Planning. “This plan represents a real compromise among many different interests to get renewable and other projects through the queue as fast as possible and give developers a clearer picture of their costs and timelines.” 

The proposed interconnection process reform plan overview (PDF) is available at PJM.com. 

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