PJM Prepared for Winter Demands

With the recent chill throughout the region PJM serves, we’ve already had a little taste of what this winter could bring.

Looking at the winter ahead, we’re confident there is sufficient capacity to meet our forecasted peak demand. As we mentioned on Wednesday, PJM has already set a new record peak demand for the month of November.

PJM started focusing on this winter’s preparedness early in the year while studying the lessons learned from the Polar Vortex in January 2014. The steps PJM has been taking include more testing of generating equipment beforehand, improving operating procedures and improving coordination with the gas pipeline industry.

The times of day and ways people use electricity also varies with the weather and with the seasons. The graphs below show examples of PJM’s demand curves (which track electricity usage throughout the day) during different seasons. PJM’s Learning Center has more about load and demand changes with the seasons. We also have a video that explains more about the subject.

Load-Curves

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Fall Chill Brings Record November Usage

As temperatures plummeted throughout the country, it looks like PJM set a new a record peak demand on Tuesday for the month of November, serving 121,986 megawatts at 7 p.m. eastern. While this number is a preliminary reading (the official number will come in sometime later), it does speak to Tuesday and today’s unusual cold.

If you’re interested in keeping track of PJM’s daily peaks and load forecast, PJM posts these numbers daily on its Twitter page.

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An MRI for the Electric Grid

In the same ways doctors and specialists use the latest medical technologies to detect potential problems in our bodies, PJM uses new technologies to detect potential problems on the grid.

Using a U.S. Department of Energy grant, PJM’s member transmission owners have installed more than 370 synchrophasors in more than 100 substations in 10 states. Synchrophasors take high-speed measurements of voltage, current and frequency.

Similar to how an MRI shows a more-detailed picture of the human body than an X-ray, synchrophasors give a more detailed, comprehensive look at the electric grid than current tools allow. The technology combined with advanced analytical software is an excellent tool for analyzing disturbances on the grid and is a powerful tool for system planning as well as monitoring and anticipating future disturbances.

To learn more about synchrophasors, check out the PJM Learning Center.

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PJM’s Grid 20/20 Explores Resource Diversity

The world’s largest and fastest fuel switch, evolving federal policies and the increasing use of non-traditional generation are driving the power industry to recognize the greater need for resource diversity, said PJM Interconnection President and CEO Terry Boston at PJM’s Grid 20/20: Focus on Resource Diversity forum.

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PJM President and CEO Terry Boston

Held last week in Washington D.C., the event also welcomed Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Cheryl LaFleur and featured two panels that discussed shifting trends in resource types.

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FERC Chairman Cheryl LaFleur

“We’re facing a big change from the normal pace at which the grid evolved,” noted Boston in his opening remarks. “Looking back 80 years, typically it has taken a decade for a new fuel to emerge as a major source of generation.”

Boston explained that PJM’s current capacity mix is 40 percent coal, 30 percent natural gas, 19 percent nuclear and 11 percent “other,” including renewable resources. Those percentages are changing as the industry rapidly moves to natural gas as a primary fuel.

In her keynote address, FERC Chairman LaFleur said that competitive energy markets have for the most part done a good job attracting new generation and noted that the nation is at a key point in the development of electricity markets.

Diverse panelists from ISO New England, FirstEnergy Solutions, Calpine, Hydro Quebec, Duke Energy, Edision Electric Institute, AEP, Illinois Citizens Utility Board and Hawaiian Electric engaged in a lively discussion about their insights and experience on resource diversity.

More information is available at grid2020.pjm.com.

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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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