Working Toward Perfection

By Ray E. Dotter

PJM squeezed more efficiencies from the grid last year: enough to pay for our cost of operations. It’s because of a target for incremental improvement we call “Perfect Dispatch.”

Last year, Perfect Dispatch savings were $199 million. That’s about equal to our operating costs for the year. Accumulated savings since 2008 are $455 million.

PJM has a decades’ long record at picking the most economic mix of generating units to produce electricity. A couple of years ago, we set out to see how we could get even better.

Choosing which generating units to use is called dispatch. It’s not just which units are run, but also which units are called on to be prepared to run. There are costs associated just with being ready to run.

Here’s what we mean by Perfect Dispatch: If you look back at the day before with 20/20 hindsight, you know about unpredictable developments such as weather changes or transmission line shutdowns. Now, what would have been the optimum mix of generators to schedule know all that? How close did actual real-time operations come to that after-the-fact perfection? Work to get closer to perfection.

PJM has moved its scheduling of units closer to perfection. We weren’t doing too badly before. But, with PJM’s scale, wringing out small improvements produces big savings.

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