Widespread Interstate Standards Could Boost RE

As the case has shown in New Jersey, simplified interconnection standards for distributed energy projects can be a key part of jumpstarting widespread renewable energy use. PJM Interconnection, which runs the world’s largest wholesale electricity market, appears poised to enact their own simplified standards across many U.S states.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has accepted PJM Interconnection’s proposal that makes it easier for small generators to connect to the electric system and participate in PJM’s wholesale electricity market. The proposal is a new standard that sets the technical requirements to connect generators of two MW or less to utility lines. It applies to small generators selling their electricity in PJM’s wholesale electricity market. These generators include wind, solar and cogeneration units. One MW is enough electricity to power about 800 homes. PJM’s region includes 143,000 MW of generating capacity. Access to the market improves the generators’ ability to sell the electricity they produce and to find the best price. “We’re replacing numerous technical requirements that vary from one utility to another with a uniform standard across our region from the Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic,” said Steven R. Herling, PJM vice president of Planning. “In effect, we’ve removed a potential barrier to entry into the market. The new standard provides a transparent, one-stop reference for equipment manufacturers and small generation developers.” PJM worked in an open process with utilities, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Renewable Energy Labs and other interested stakeholders to develop the uniform interconnection standard for small generators. The PJM standard is based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers national standard (IEEE 1547). The new standard was endorsed by PJM’s members. PJM has recently begun a stakeholder process for the development of technical standards for small generators in the two MW to 10 MW size range. Also, PJM is working with the states it serves to help them develop consistent interconnection standards for small generators that do not participate in the PJM markets. PJM Interconnection ensures the reliability of the high-voltage electric power system serving 51 million people in all or parts of Delaware, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. PJM coordinates and directs the operation of the region’s transmission grid; administers a competitive wholesale electricity market, the world’s largest; and plans regional transmission expansion improvements to maintain grid reliability and relieve congestion.
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