PJM Interconnection, the nation’s largest electric grid operator, predicts a sufficient supply of electricity to meet summer electricity needs for the 65 million people in 13 states that include Delaware.
At the same time, it warned that extreme weather that could change that outlook has to be taken into account.
This comes after outages of coal and natural gas generators around Christmas led to a rare advisory calling for consumers to cut electric usage.
Consumption in this region hits a peak during the summer.
PJM projects a non-diversified peak demand for electricity this summer at abou 156,000 megawattw and has performed reliability studies at loads nearing 163,000 megawatts. PJM has more than 186,000 megawatts of installed generating capacity available.
While its assessment shows that PJM is prepared to maintain reliability this summer, modeling of extreme scenarios indicates tightening reserve margins and the potential need to reduce the load by deploying demand response in certain conditions.
PJM can deploy demand response by instructing customers who have agreed in advance to be temporarily interrupted in exchange for a capacity payment to reduce their load. This scenario could occur in the event of extraordinary electricity demand and high generator outages – an unlikely but possible set of circumstances, a PJM release stated.
Electric utilities in the region, including Delmarva Power and Delaware Electric have programs that control air-conditioning systems for those who sign up for that option.
“PJM works diligently throughout the year to coordinate and plan for peak load operations, with reliability as our top priority,” said CEO Manu Asthana. “We’re not saying these extreme conditions will happen, but the last few years have taught us to prepare for events we have never seen.”
Following the lessons of Winter Storm Uri in early 2021, PJM models now incorporate more extreme scenarios with no historical precedent.
“We have learned through experience to expand the set of possibilities we prepare for,” said Mike Bryson, senior vice president – operations. “We will continue to work with our utility partners and stakeholders to refine our planning, analysis, and communications of the risks presented by new and challenging weather patterns and other variables.”
The risk to reserve margins this year is a result of higher expected generator outage rates based on recent trends, particularly during Winter Storm Elliott, coupled with hot summer weather that drives up demand for electricity. The National Weather Service predicts higher-than-normal temperatures this summer for most of the U.S., and particularly the East Coast and Gulf Coast.
PJM’s all-time, one-day highest power use was recorded in the summer of 2006 at 165,563 megawatts.