PJM's Evolving Resource Mix and System Reliability


The rapid introduction of new technologies and increased reliance on natural gas as the fuel
source for generating electricity provides significant opportunities and risks to the PJM system
and market. Extreme care must be taken so that the adoption of new technologies and the shift
in fuel sources do not undermine the reliability and resilience of the electric grid, and with it,
national security.
PJM is at a crossroads: how will the region reliably generate its electricity given the various
environmental policies and economic considerations (in particular, natural gas being deemed
more economical than nuclear and coal). These same concerns face the nation as a whole. As a
consequence, care must be taken to make sure the resilience of the PJM electric system (i.e., the
ability of the PJM electric system or its components to adapt to changing conditions and
withstand and rapidly recover from disruptions, whether natural or manmade) is not negatively
affected by this change. Recognizing this crossroads, PJM, the largest regional transmission
organization in the nation, has undertaken several natural gas analyses to assess potential system
reliability implications. As a result, PJM has published a comprehensive whitepaper on fuel
diversity and security.1 All of the studies generally concluded that the existing and planned natural
gas pipeline infrastructure would be adequate for current and future anticipated electric system
needs with the assumption that a robust gas pipeline infrastructure exists to serve electricity
generation. PJM, however, has highlighted notable differences between the available
infrastructure and the contractual availability and allocation of that infrastructure to meet the
needs of the power generation sector.

This comment paper focuses primarily on PJM, given its unique position in the United States of
administering an energy market that has much of its territory within the regions where abundant
gas supply is available. However, given the enormity of the issue at hand, the same concerns and
recommendations can be extended to the nation as a whole (while recognizing regional
Quanta Technology, an independent consulting company providing business and technical
expertise to the energy and utility industries, appreciates the opportunity to provide its
perspective during this unprecedented time of examining and understanding the implications of
fuel mix diversity and energy independence on the impacts of fuel supply vulnerability and fuel
price volatility, to maintain electric grid reliability, and to improve resiliency. By examining the
various definitions of fuel diversity and security within an electricity market (e.g., discussing
various economic, reliability, and environmental dimensions of fuel mix; exploring the impacts of
various scenarios on fuel or technology-dependent energy systems; identifying options to
address fuel diversity and security), the nation can pursue its goals in a balanced and
economically efficient manner, both in the short and long term, while maintaining the high
degree of reliability and resiliency consumers have come to expect.

Henry Chao
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