The Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland (PJM) Independent System Operator (ISO) has received approval for transmission facilities to interconnect more than 40 new power generating stations to the grid. In a meeting last week, PJM’s board of managers approved the remaining elements of what is the first coordinated regional transmission expansion under the PJM ISO structure.

The proposed new power projects include more than 15,000 MW of mostly natural gas-fired generation capacity that will be added to the region’s grid over the next five years, servicing all or parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and the District of Columbia. The expansion should give the region’s customers a comfortable reserve above demand.

“The projected demand for this year was 51,160 MW and our all time peak which occurred last year was 51,700 MW,” said PJM’s spokeswoman Melissa Josef. Currently, PJM has more than 58,000 MW of capacity without adding the new projects, Josef added.

The added electricity output will help to provide reliability within the region as well as increase the vitality of PJM’s competitive markets. Josef said the new “transmission lines including transmission upgrades would cost an estimated $100 million.”

The ISO has received requests for more than 150 power generating projects since its inception in spring 1999. Projects are reviewed on a first-come first-serve basis by PJM’s System Planning Department. All the projects are listed by Queue and can be viewed on the PJM web site,, under the heading generation interconnection. Queue A represents the list of projects that were approved for addition to the grid. Projects within Queue B, C and D are at various stages along the review process and at time of press, included 93 additional pending generation projects, the majority of which are natural gas fired.

PJM also is moving ahead with its FERC approved Customer Load Reduction Pilot Program, which targets on-site generation and load management programs in facilities such as stores, factories, hospitals and hotels during emergency conditions. During times of peak demand and emergency conditions, PJM would be able to take advantage of distributed generation from registered participants as load relief. The pilot program which is currently on a trial basis, has 35 participants with a total of 61.5 MW. About 15 MW is the largest of the on-site generators among the participants, 200 kW is the smallest.

“While we have not had to use it this summer, we have that available to us,” said Josef. After the trial period ends on Sept. 30, the program will be evaluated to determine if it is worth pursuing. If successful, the program will be improved and expanded to handle potential shortfalls in capacity next summer.

PJM Interconnection became the first operational ISO in the U.S. on Jan. 1, 1998. PJM claims to be the largest centrally-dispatched electric control area in North America, and the third largest in the world. It monitors, evaluates and coordinates the operation of over 8,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines, and a capacity of more than 58,000 MW. It has over 190 members, and is responsible for almost 8% of the countries electric power.

Alex Steis

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