The Gift of Perfect Dispatch

So far in 2014, PJM has saved its members $144 million in production costs using a process called “Perfect Dispatch.”

Perfect Dispatch measures the ability of PJM’s dispatch operations to minimize system production costs while still meeting reliability needs. The “perfect dispatch” for a given day is the hypothetical commitment of generators and dispatch that would result in the lowest production cost while maintaining reliability, and can only happen if all system conditions (such as the load forecast, generator availability and performance, and transmission outages and constraints) occur exactly as predicted.

While that’s not realistically achievable, it still acts as a great baseline to measure performance.

PJM scores how close to “perfect” its operations are by comparing its actual production costs to the optimal figure, setting goals each year to meet a certain percentage of Perfect Dispatch. Because of PJM’s size, even small improvements in dispatch performance can produce large savings for members. Since it was introduced in 2008, Perfect Dispatch has yielded more than $986 million in savings to PJM members.

Beyond monetary savings, Perfect Dispatch reduces wear, tear and emissions from generation resources because they are used more efficiently. You can learn more about how PJM works to protect reliability fairly and efficiently in the PJM Learning Center.

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Giving Thanks for Those Working Over Thanksgiving

As we look back and celebrate the things we’re thankful for over this Thanksgiving, PJM is especially thankful for our personnel who will be working tirelessly over the holiday to help keep the lights on.

We also want to recognize and thank the medical and emergency services professionals and volunteers as well as men and women in the armed services working selflessly over the holiday to care for and protect us at home and overseas.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

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PJM ‘Going the Distance’

In the giving spirit of the season, the image below represents the many ways that PJM gives back to the community. PJM employees walked, ran and biked approximately 8,703 miles for charities; logged more than 1,500 volunteer hours; and served nearly 4,000 meals at local shelters. See how else we are “going the distance” for our communities – Visit

PJM Gives

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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.


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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

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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.


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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