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PJM’s transmission needs are shifting due to flat demand, changing fuel mix

The PJM Interconnection’s transmission needs are shifting away from large-scale, cross-system backbone projects toward smaller expansions and projects needed to maintain reliability when generators retire, according to a new report.

“The $3.2 billion of baseline transmission investment approved during 2017 continues to reflect a shift in the dynamics driving transmission expansion needed through study year 2022,” according to the 2017 Regional Transmission Expansion Plan Report, issued Thursday. The annual report summarizes transmission enhancements undertaken to maintain or strengthen reliability.

The drivers behind PJM’s changing transmission requirements include flat load growth, energy efficiency, generation shifts, and aging infrastructure, among others. The factors are resulting in fewer large-scale projects at 345 kV, 500 kV, and 765 kV voltage levels and higher levels of transmission investment below 345 kV, according to the report.

The grid operator’s 2017 PJM Load Forecast Report shows a 10-year RTO summer normalized peak growth rate of 0.2%, with average 10-year annualized summer growth rates for individual PJM zones that ranged from -0.3% to 0.4%. These trends are being driven by evolving customer behavior that includes the use of more efficient manufacturing equipment and home appliances and the growth of distributed energy resources such as behind-the-meter rooftop solar installations.

PJM says it is managing “an unprecedented capacity shift” being led by federal and state public policy and broader fuel economics. ….

Read full article at Platts