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NRDC - Natural Resources Defense Council

05/22/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/22/2024 10:41

PJM Interconnection Action: Steps Forward, Miles to Go

VALLEY FORGE, PA - This week PJM, the grid operator for 13 states, announced the advancement of more than 300 interconnection projects under phase 1 of its new interconnection process, created in 2022.

Following are reactions from PJM advocates:

"PJM worries there's not enough new power coming online, but it's still only approving projects proposed four to six years ago. This is a step forward, but PJM's current process is not enough to get these new clean energy projects connected to the grid as quickly as they're needed. PJM has not even begun work on a single project proposed since the Inflation Reduction Act, the Illinois Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, the Virginia Clean Economy Act, or Maryland's Climate Solutions Act," said Tom Rutigliano, senior advocate with the Sustainable FERC Project at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council.)

"It's great to see the progress, transparency, and diligent efforts from PJM staff in implementing the 2022 queue reforms. However, PJM must recognize the need to improve what remains a very backlogged queue with expensive network upgrades. The clearest opportunity for improvement is bringing its interconnection process into compliance with Order 2023, particularly through serious consideration of alternative transmission technologies that could provide faster and cheaper network upgrade alternatives. The fact that no grid enhancing technologies have been identified or used as network upgrades to date suggests PJM has more work to do in incorporating these fast, flexible transmission tools into its study methodologies," said Katie Siegner, Manager at RMI.

Background:

In 2023, NRDC released a report on the impact of interconnection delays in PJM, Waiting Game: How the Interconnection Queue Threatens Renewable Development in PJM.

As of September 2022, there were over 202 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy resources waiting in the PJM queue, over 95% of the total queue. For context, there were 200 GW of clean energy resources operating in the entire U.S. in 2021. The Princeton ZERO Lab predicts that PJM will see an additional 1,000 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy projects enter the queue annually going forward.

The report found that PJM's plans to speed up the queue for new generation projects would likely be insufficient for states committed to renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requirements. And without action, states will not be able to accommodate the rapid increase in wind and solar growth and be forced to keep dirtier sources online longer.

More recently in 2024, RMI released a report, GETting Interconnected in PJM, on the potential for grid enhancing technologies to increase the speed and scale of new entry in PJM. The study found that GETs could enable 6.6 GW of new solar, wind, and storage projects to interconnect by 2027.

GETs and the new generation they enable could yield approximately $1 billion annually in production cost savings across the PJM region, and are cheaper than the default network upgrades that interconnection customers might face.

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