Union of Concerned Scientists Inc.

06/13/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/13/2024 09:43

Mid-Atlantic Governors Urge PJM to Adopt New FERC Transmission Rules to Lower Costs, Improve Reliability

The governors of Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania sent a letter to the PJM Interconnection president and board of managers chair yesterday, urging the grid operator to promptly facilitate a process for states, PJM, and stakeholders to engage in long-term planning to expand transmission, as per a new Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) directive.

Prior to the issuance of the new rule, PJM had nearly completed a set of planning changes that did not conform to the new directive, which requires utilities and regional grid operators to adopt 20-year plans that consider trends in technology and fuel costs, changes to resource mix and demand, more opportunities for state and utility collaboration, and extreme weather events, among other variables calculated by the "best available data."

"While it appears that PJM intends to correct course, the governors' letter serves as a push to comply with FERC's directive and coordinate with states and stakeholders," said Mike Jacobs, senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). "FERC's rule directs all RTOs, including PJM, to develop long-term plans for expanding transmission in a way that will ensure reliability, affordability, and access to clean energy for all. At stakeholder meetings, PJM was very resistance to planning for the economic reality of renewable energy resources and this led to far fewer planning reforms."

UCS has pushed for strong transmission planning rules for the past 15 years, arguing reforms are critical to provide more communities with access to clean energy, ensure grid reliability, and enhance affordability. A recent UCS analysis found that to meet U.S. climate goals, transmission capacity needs to increase 36% by 2030, more than double by 2040, and quadruple by 2050.

"It may seem obvious that we should be planning for the grid of the future, but it simply hasn't been happening across large swathes of the country," said Sam Gomberg, the manager of transmission policy and a senior energy analyst at UCS. "This was particularly glaring at PJM, the nation's largest grid operator, where a failure to conduct robust long-term transmission planning resulted in piecemeal and often inadequate transmission system investments that ultimately raise costs for consumers.

"The new FERC rules are a critical step to ensuring our electric grid has the capacity and durability necessary to keep up with our clean energy ambition, meet climate goals, and guarantee affordable and equitable energy access for all," said Gomberg.