Solar and Electric Vehicle Charging Station Pilot Recognized

PJM Interconnection supports a number of advanced technology pilots. It’s great when one of them is honored by the electricity industry. Recently, PJM, TimberRock Energy Solutions, General Motors and OnStar received PV America’s Project of Distinction award for 2014 at its annual conference.

Spearheaded by TimberRock, GM and OnStar, the project worked to integrate solar power, energy storage, smart grid functionality and advance vehicle-to-grid capabilities at an electric vehicle charging station at GM’s E-Motor Plant in White March, Md. In the pilot, the individual resources were aggregated as a single capacity resource that could be dispatched to both the host site or to PJM to provide services such as frequency regulation.

The participating companies continue to work to integrate the project with PJM to participate in its frequency regulation market.

Photo courtesy of TimberRock Energy Solutions.

Photo courtesy of TimberRock Energy Solutions.

PJM frequently works with its members and other innovators to support pilot projects that explore how their technologies and services can integrate with the grid to make it more reliable and efficient. If you’d like to learn more about pilots in PJM, check out the Learning Center.

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Electricity Price Ticker Updated with New Features

The Electricity Price Ticker we’ve previously mentioned on Plugged-In has been updated with new features.

The PJM Electricity Price Ticker displays the real-time price a local power provider would pay to purchase power in the wholesale spot market. Just like other consumer goods, the retailer (the local power provider) buys from a wholesale provider and then sells to the customer. Prices vary throughout the day and from day to day based on demand and grid conditions.

The ticker has been re-tooled to give more specific information, showing the price for each of PJM’s transmission zones. It also was redesigned to be mobile-friendly.

Take a look.

price-ticker

See our previous post on the Electricity Price Ticker.

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Thinking About the Future of Demand Response

In light of a recent court ruling, PJM, its stakeholders and the electricity industry as a whole must re-envision the role of demand response in grid reliability and wholesale markets.

PJM has published a paper (PDF) proposing one approach on how demand response could evolve in response to the ruling. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission doesn’t have the authority to regulate or set prices for demand resources at the wholesale level. Although limited to the payment of demand response in wholesale energy markets, the reasoning of the order could extend to the capacity market. Removing demand response as a capacity resource would have a big impact on reliability and wholesale prices.

The new paper is simply one approach to be vetted by members, regulators and other stakeholders. If you’d like to know more, take a look (PDF).

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A Taxi Ride for Electricity

How was your drive into work this morning? Did you, like so many of us, sit in another traffic jam?

Like highways and city streets, transmission lines can also get congested depending on the time of day or season. PJM uses a concept called “locational marginal pricing” that considers congestion on the grid as it sets the price for energy sales and purchases in the PJM market. True to its name, locational marginal pricing is based on the location in which power is received or delivered.

Think of it like a taxi ride for megawatts. When traffic is light, you can expect a consistent and predictable cab fare. This is like a period with little congestion on the grid. But during rush hour, you’d expect a higher fare, like during a time of congestion on the grid.

If you would like to learn more about locational marginal pricing or other aspects of PJM’s markets, visit PJM’s recently redesigned Learning Center.

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Taking Advantage of the Shoulder Months

Fall doesn’t officially start until around 10:30 p.m. today, but, for many transmission and generation owners, it’s already begun.

Spring and fall, often called “shoulder” seasons, give the grid a bit of a rest between hot summers and cold winters. Grid operators rely on these shoulders so transmission and generation owners can repair and maintain power plants and power lines. With comfortable weather, demand for power goes down, meaning they can safely schedule downtime for their facilities to perform maintenance.

By taking lines and power plants offline for repairs when demand is low, it helps ensure their availability when demand is high. Fall and spring’s lower demands give the grid the opportunity to prepare for the stresses summer and winter can bring.

If you’d like to know a little more about how PJM balances power during changing seasons, visit the PJM Learning Center.

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The Power of Stored Energy

One of the ways to store a large amount of electrical energy is through lithium-ion batteries. In fact, the PJM campus currently houses two megawatts worth of lithium-ion batteries in an array (owned and operated by AES Energy Services LLC, a subsidiary of The AES Corp., a PJM member). The large series of batteries can change whether it puts energy into or receives energy from the grid in less than one second and helps PJM quickly balance short-term variations in energy use.

Of course, there are a number of other methods of energy storage, including flywheels, electric vehicles and thermal storage devices such as water heaters or space heaters. Visit PJM’s Learning Center for more about how PJM is integrating energy storage into the grid with a number of pilot programs.

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Keeping Alert for Solar Activity

You might have heard about a solar storm that was supposed to have hit Earth this past weekend, which could disrupt cellphone service, GPS devices and even the power grid.

Even though the storm, also called a “geomagnetic disturbance,” didn’t affect your power, PJM goes on alert whenever the Space Weather Prediction Center sends a solar storm warning. Late Friday, it issued such a warning, and, as is often the case, the effects of the solar activity were stronger north of the PJM footprint.

Perhaps most notably, the solar storm sparked a beautiful aurora borealis visible to many in the northern parts of the United States.

If you want to learn more about how PJM handles geomagnetic disturbances, we have a fact sheet (PDF).

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Updated Map on PJM Website Shows Price of Wholesale Electricity in Your Area

We’ve made it easier to see the wholesale price of electricity in your area with an improved Locational Marginal Pricing Map on pjm.com. The locational marginal price is the price of wholesale electricity for each location in the PJM footprint.

A legend in the bottom right corner of the map shows the color codes for the current wholesale price of electricity. You can zoom in on a specific location of the map for details.

Clicking on a specific area shows you two additional costs of electricity: marginal losses and congestion. Marginal losses the cost of the megawatts lost in moving electricity through transmission lines. Congestion prices are the higher cost of providing power from local generators when transmission lines can’t deliver any more lower-priced energy to an area.

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A Primer on PJM’s Markets

Much like other commodities, electricity is bought, sold and traded in wholesale and retail markets. PJM administers the competitive wholesale markets for large volumes of electricity across 13 states and the District of Columbia. From the PJM wholesale market, electricity is then sold in smaller quantities through retail electricity providers to end-users, such as homes and businesses.

In the following video, Lynn Horning, PJM’s manager of Member Relations, briefly explains the several different wholesale market structures PJM uses, including Energy, Capacity and Ancillary Services markets.

You can also learn more about PJM’s markets on the freshly revamped Learning Center.


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Are blackouts coming this winter?

First, don’t panic.

We’ve seen alarming statements (attributed to PJM) that the region we serve faces possible blackouts this winter because of coal plant retirements.

First, PJM has NOT said there’s a higher threat to the grid this winter (2014/2015).

We have identified potential problems after that if there’s another “Polar Vortex,” like the unusual one we experienced in January.

While coal retirements are a factor in the challenges we see for upcoming winters, we believe they are manageable. The larger issue is the performance of generators (all types of generators) during very cold weather. If generators of all fuel types are available to run and perform with normal efficiency and flexibility during cold weather, PJM should have fewer problems dealing with the highest demands for electricity in winter.

PJM and our stakeholders are in the middle of discussions on ways to encourage stronger generator performance during winter months. We expect a final proposal in November.

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