Thursday, May 18, 2023

NRDC: PJM Interconnection Delays In Queue To Approve Renewable Energy Projects Threatens State Transition To Clean Energy; PJM Has Approved 35,000 MW Of Renewables Not Yet Connected

On May 18, the
Natural Resources Defense Council released a new report illustrating how the PJM Interconnection plans to speed up the queue for new generation projects will likely be insufficient for states committed to renewable portfolio standard requirements. 

In order for states in PJM to take full advantage of incentives under the federal Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), NRDC said PJM must remove barriers to meeting the market and policy demand for cheap and clean energy. 

Without action, the NRDC said, states will not be able to accommodate the rapid increase in wind and solar growth and be forced to keep dirtier sources online longer.  

The new NRDC report, Waiting Game: How the Interconnection Queue Threatens Renewable Development in PJM, shows that even under ongoing reform proposals, the pace of renewable development in PJM just barely meets minimum clean energy demands of state RPS laws through 2027. 

The proposed reforms are very unlikely to meet total regional demand for new renewable generation through 2030, the report said.  

“States throughout PJM set ambitious RPS goals to cut emissions, lower costs, and boost reliability, but continued delays at PJM threaten to derail these plans,” said Dana Ammann, policy analyst at NRDC and the lead author of the report. “PJM needs to work with the states to reach their renewable goals, and do its part to build the clean grid we need. Without changes to its queue processing pace, PJM will likely force states to fall short of state renewable targets, even after the reforms it approved last year.”  

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.  They include solar, wind or energy storage facilities.

[Note: PJM told a Pennsylvania Senate hearing in February 35,000 MW of renewable energy resources are through its approval process, but not commercially connected to the PJM grid due to issues like supply chains and siting.  Read more here.

[PJM also said at the same hearing there is such a high percentage of renewable new energy generation seeking to connect to the PJM grid because renewable energy is cheaper than natural gas and nuclear. Read more here.]

For context, there were 200 GW of clean energy resources operating in the entire U.S. in 2021, according to NRDC. 

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.  

This new analysis shows that the proposed timeline for “clearing” the backlog before the new, more efficient processing system takes effect will be necessary to make renewables available on pace with states’ RPS goals.  

Without imports, the report predicts that states with an RPS will fall short of RPS requirements through 2025, according to Princeton ZERO Lab. 

In 2028, renewables will reach only approximately two-thirds of the total renewable potential under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) projected by the Princeton Net ZERO Lab.  

“PJM needs to use the tools and processes at its disposal to meet state needs for renewables,” said Tom Rutigliano, senior advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Flexibility will be essential, and PJM should prioritize existing projects and clusters that can deliver the highest level of clean capacity and reliability to the grid, like offshore wind.” 

In 2022 FERC approved a PJM plan to revamp their interconnection backlog and begin reviewing multiple projects at once. 

PJM expects this new approach to accelerate its process. However, this new process is not expected to begin until 2026.  

In reaction to the report, the PJM Interconnection released this statement-- 

“PJM advanced landmark reforms to speed the interconnection queue that were overwhelmingly approved by PJM stakeholders and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. 

“These reforms will begin this summer, and by 2026 we expect to study the interconnection of more than 200,000 MW of mostly renewable resources.

“PJM will continue to work constructively with all of our stakeholders, including the NRDC, on ways to go even faster.”

Click Here for a copy of the report.

Related Articles - PJM:

-- Senate Hearing On Electric Grid Reliability: Natural Gas Continues To Have Reliability Problems; Renewables Aren’t Coming Online Fast Enough; Energy Office To Be Proposed [PaEN]

-- PJM Interconnection Study Shows Renewable Energy Sources Not Coming Online Fast Enough To Replace Fossil Fuel Plants; Critical Path Analysis Started To Avoid Grid Reliability Risks

-- Senate Hearing: Wholesale Electricity Prices Too Low To Support Coal, Natural Gas Power Plants In Market; Natural Gas Reliability Issues Will Continue [PaEN]

-- PJM This Week Sends Penalty Assessments Of Up To $2 Billion To Electric Generators That Failed To Perform During December’s Winter Storm Elliot; Natural Gas Power Plants Had 63% Of Outages [PaEN]

Related Articles This Week:

-- PUC Alerts Consumers To Electricity Price Changes Coming June 1-- From 20.7% Increase To 17% Decrease; Driven By Price Of Natural Gas  [PaEN]

-- PUC Adopts Changes To LIURP Regs For Comment On Electric, Natural Gas Utility Programs To Provide Weatherization, Energy Use Reduction Services To Low-Income Customers [PaEN]

-- PUC Urges Safety In Working On Summer Projects Near Power Lines On Job Site Or At Home

-- Utility Dive: North American Electric Reliability Corp Issued Highest Alert Ever Urging Electric Generators, Transmission Owners To Take Measures To Prepare For Winter After Generator Nonperformance In 2018, 2021, 2022

[Posted: May 18, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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