Keeping People Calm and Cool…You’re Welcome

By Paula DuPont-Kidd

Here is a column by a PJM staff communicator, and one in an occasional feature to Plugged In.

If you watch old movies, you’ve seen the hot Southern courtroom scene where jurors and onlookers are fanning their perspiration-beaded faces. They’re wearing long, heavy clothing and barely moving. The heat itself is another actor in the scene — creating a growing undercurrent of unrest beneath the slow-moving arguments.  Time seems to stand still until the heat sparks an emotional outburst.

Heat is always the instigator, capable of making a normally cool-headed person snap. According to research presented by psychologist John Grohol of PsychCentral.com, heat waves are related to violent behavior and aggression and are associated with higher drug and alcohol abuse. Higher levels of humidity, which often accompany a heat wave, decrease concentration and increase sleepiness. High humidity is also associated with a lack of energy.

We didn’t really need research to tell us heat makes people cranky.

Fortunately, because of Willis Carrier’s 1902 invention of air conditioning, it’s difficult to imagine life without it. Thanks to all of the companies that make air conditioning work by generating, transmitting and delivering electricity, we don’t have to sweat it out.

Air conditioning makes us happier and calmer. In my opinion, air conditioning is the uncelebrated diplomat that brings peace and tranquility to the hot, bothered and stewing.

Nothing replaces bright sunshine at the beach, golf course, pool or outdoor concert. Of course it isn’t really summer unless there’s a string of sunny 90-degree days somewhere in it.

But let’s face it, we’re all just a little more tolerant of life’s challenges when we are cool and comfortable. Traffic is a little less irritating, food tastes better and people are little less edgy when the air conditioner is on.

You’re welcome.

The author is a long-time air conditioning fan and an unbiased proponent of electricity.

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How Does a Generator Connect to PJM? New Video Helps Explain

When a generator wants to connect to the transmission system, PJM follows a thorough and detailed process. It ensures that when the generator connects, it can deliver power safely and reliably and participate in PJM’s markets.

We’ve briefly discussed the interconnection process previously on Plugged In. In a new video, PJM’s Susan McGill, senior engineer – Interconnection Projects, explains the four-phase process for a generator to connect to the PJM grid. She describes the process from the initial application for a generator to connect to the PJM system, to coordination with local utilities to ensure the generator can connect safely and reliably, through commercial operation of that generator.

The video is part of PJM’s series of “Power Clips.” They are part of the PJM Learning Center (also see our previous post about how transmission lines get built). Each Power Clip gives a brief, high-level overview of a PJM-related industry topic. The Learning Center is dedicated to explaining in simple terms the power industry and PJM’s key priority of ensuring reliable power supplies.

Check out all of the Power Clips.

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Why Does a Transmission Line Get Built?

As part of PJM’s work to ensure the reliability of the electric grid for 61 million people, PJM studies potential reliability issues. After a lot of careful consideration, we can ask for new transmission lines to be built to solve developing problems.

In a brief new video, PJM’s Yonas Habtemichael, engineer – Transmission Planning, explains and illustrates how a transmission line gets built in the region PJM serves. He walks through PJM’s planning process. It evaluates proposed upgrades to the grid and ensures that PJM can meet electricity demand now and into the future – in short, keeping the lights on.

The video is a part of PJM’s series of “Power Clips.” They are a part of the PJM Learning Center. Each Power Clip gives a brief, high-level overview of a PJM-related industry topic. The Learning Center explains in simple terms the power industry and PJM’s priority of ensuring reliable power supplies.

Check out more Power Clips.

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Does Demand for Power Go Up on Hot Summer Holidays and Weekends?

Occasionally we’re asked if demand for power goes up over a typically hot summer holiday such as Independence Day or a weekend.

While more people might be at home cranking up their air conditioners over a sweltering holiday or weekend, typically demand actually goes down. This is because, while you might use your air conditioner more heavily over a weekend, many offices and businesses, which use a lot of electricity to keep their entire buildings cool, close over a weekend or holiday and don’t use the amount of electricity it does throughout the work week.

You can learn more about how PJM works to keep the lights on 24/7 in the Learning Center.

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How Does PJM Make Money? What Happens When a Power Plant Retires? Two New Learning Center Pages Explain

How does PJM make money? What does PJM do to keep the grid stable when a generator plans to retire? PJM has launched two new pages on the PJM Learning Center at learn.pjm.com to help answer these questions.

Check out these new pages at learn.pjm.com.

PJM redesigned the Learning Center website last year to make it a more visual and easy-to-understand online source dedicated to explaining complex PJM and power industry topics. The Learning Center project team continually works with subject matter experts across PJM departments to enhance and update the information on the website.

Learning Center

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PJM Learning Center Website Wins Award for Publication Excellence

Last September a team of PJM experts worked together to rewrite, redesign and expand the Learning Center website at learn.pjm.com to transform it into your simple, clear and visual resource for understanding the power industry and PJM.

The redesigned site has won an APEX award in the category of most improved websites. APEX stands for Awards for Publication Excellence. The award program is a competition for communications professionals.

The Learning Center touches a range of topics from how electricity is created and transported to ensure a reliable grid, to an overview of the fair and efficient electricity markets that PJM administers, to infrastructure planning as well as emerging grid technologies for the future.

PJM continues to make ongoing enhancements to the site. Stay tuned for new pages and videos launching this summer.

Apex Award

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Next Grid 20/20 Forum to Explore Gas/Electric Interoperability

PJM often holds what we call “Grid 20/20” forums that bring together PJM members, policymakers and industry experts to discuss cutting-edge ideas, visions and technologies that will transform electricity in the 21st century.

Our next forum, “PJM’s Grid 20/20: Focus on Gas/Electric Interoperability,” held on June 17, will feature Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Philip Moeller among the key speakers.

The forum focuses on the two industries continuing to work collaboratively to adjust to the growing use of natural gas for electric generation. PJM, regulators and gas and electric industry companies continue to assess the impact on grid operations, the markets, infrastructure planning and regulatory compliance. The trend to natural-gas-fired generation also is a factor in considering the potential impacts of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan.

PJM President and CEO Terry Boston will open the forum, which also will feature ISO New England CEO Gordon van Welie and three panels of industry experts.

Learn more or register on the PJM website.

Grid 20/20 2015

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PJM and Members Ready to Meet Summer Demands

PJM issued its annual summer assessment (PDF), which found that PJM will be able meet the hot weather demands the season brings. For this summer, PJM expects to serve about 155,279 megawatts at its peak (for reference, one megawatt is enough to power between 800 and 1,000 homes).

The assessment says that while summer weather conditions can test the grid, PJM should be able to meet the expected peak, with 177,650 MW of installed generating capacity to use. The extra available electricity is called a reserve, which is needed in case an extended heat wave puts an added demand on the grid or if another supply resource goes out of service unexpectedly. PJM must have a certain percentage of reserve available, called a margin, to meet federal reliability standards.

PJM expects to have about 8,500 MW of demand response and energy efficiency resources available. Demand response is a program where customers commit to reducing or interrupting their power use in the event of a system emergency.

Additionally, the recently-completed Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line that runs between Pennsylvania and New Jersey also should relieve some congestion on the grid this summer.

If you’re wondering, the highest peak use of power PJM ever served was 165,492 MW in July 2011.

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Installing Energy Storage at PJM (Video)

Energy storage can provide grid operators a reliable and flexible way to keep power supplies in balance as generation and load change throughout an operating day.

PJM has gained experience with storage technology on its campus with a two-megawatt array of lithium-ion batteries stationed at PJM’s campus. (The project is owned and operated by AES Energy Services LLC, a subsidiary of The AES Corp., a PJM member.) The array changes its output or electricity consumption in less than a second and helps PJM quickly balance short-term variations in electricity use.

Check out the below video to see how it was installed.


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The Interconnection Process: Does PJM ‘Approve’ New Generation?

Every now and then you might read that PJM has “approved” a new generator to be built within the area it serves. We don’t actually “approve” generators, however.

Here’s a simple explanation of how PJM’s generation interconnection process works:

When a generation developer begins the process to link (or “interconnect”) the unit to the grid, PJM reviews the project and lets the developer know what improvements need to be made to the transmission system as well as how much it will cost in order to connect. From there the developer decides whether or not it wants to continue with its project.

PJM doesn’t judge whether a generator should or should not be built. We just determine what needs to happen for the project to work to connect to the grid and how much that will cost the developer.

You can read more on PJM’s website.

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