On December 15, 2021, PJM released the initial findings of a multiphase, multiyear "living study" that captures the potential impacts of an evolving grid resource mix that includes more electricity from renewable energy resources such as wind and solar assets. PJM's paper, "Energy Transition in PJM: Frameworks for Analysis," identifies critical gaps and opportunities within the current market construct and offers insights into the future of market design, transmission planning, and system operations with additional renewable generating assets in the grid. The paper cautions that the study’s assumptions are continually refined based on internal and external stakeholder feedback. PJM’s five key areas of focus are summarized below.
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EPA’s stricter wastewater rules among reasons for additional coal-fired power plant retirements across PJM
In July 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new initiatives to strengthen wastewater pollution regulations for power plants that use steam to generate electricity and use coal as their fuel source. These initiatives are expected to affect 75 coal-fired power plants nationwide. The new rules would require these power plants to reduce their level of toxic metals, such as mercury, arsenic, and selenium, from plant wastewater before discharge into streams and rivers. Noncomplying plants had an October deadline to show state regulators how they plan to comply with the EPA’s regulations by 2028.
Topics: Markets PJM Sustainability Renewables
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In July 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) unanimously voted to approve an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANOPR), allowing the public to provide comments and recommendations on how the commission can best improve transmission planning, cost allocation, and interconnection process. Responses were due back in mid-October. With the future generation mix shifting toward more renewable energy, FERC is considering requiring transmission providers to identify geographic regions that expect high renewable development and prioritize transmission planning appropriately. PJM, Amazon, and the Department of Energy (DOE) were among the respondents, recommending a more forward-looking planning process.
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Illinois Passes Nation-Leading Climate and Equitable Jobs Act
On September 15, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed historic clean energy legislation, known as the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA). Among many things, the CEJA requires Illinois to achieve a 100% carbon-free power sector by 2045, becoming the first Midwestern state to commit to ending the use of fossil fuels.
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“Sue” is the nickname given to the largest and most complete T. Rex specimen ever found. Today, she has a place of distinction in the Field Museum of Natural History of Chicago. And while Sue most likely died 67 million years ago, she seems to have come to life again in the wake of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) TRECs program through its successor - “SuSI”.
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The big energy news in PJM this summer was the completion of the first capacity auction in three years, which was held in late May. This was an important event on several fronts. Most importantly, the price for capacity in all parts of PJM was set for the period of May 2022 through June 2023. As shown in Figure 1, the price of capacity is typically the second-largest cost component of a retail electricity agreement, and like any other commodity or security, uncertainty creates risk and increases cost. This recent capacity auction provides the transparency necessary to reduce risk premiums associated with this important cost component.
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The big news story this summer in PJM has been the auction that set the price for capacity for the period of June 2022 through May 2023. This is newsworthy because there has not been a PJM capacity auction in three years. The delay had been caused by disagreements between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and PJM, which were at odds over the mechanism by which the price for capacity is set. This three-year delay created uncertainty in how capacity was valued in any forward electricity contract. And like any other security or commodity, uncertainty creates risk premiums and higher costs. Before examining the details of the most recent auction results, it is important to review capacity and why it is important to electricity buyers.
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Next week, the City of Chicago will evaluate Request for Information (RFI) submissions from parties interested in taking over the city’s electricity grid from ComEd. While at some level, this may seem impractical, the intent behind the RFI is to solicit new ideas for managing energy in the nation’s third-largest city in a way that is equitable, affordable, reliable, and promotes the city’s sustainability objectives. Chicago seeks to create a resilient and clean energy metropolis for the 21st century by upgrading its electricity delivery franchise authority. In accordance with state laws and the city’s municipal codes, the city requires a franchise to deliver electricity to its residential and commercial customers.
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In the PJM power market, June 1 officially marks the beginning of the 2021/2022 delivery year. This is an important date for clients that will participate in PJM’s various demand response (DR) programs and those who are actively managing capacity tags through peak shaving. DR participation and capacity tag management allow clients to realize an additional revenue stream for their business while reducing their electricity expenses at the same time.
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It has been three years since PJM held its last capacity auction. That last auction, which was held in May 2018, established capacity prices for the May 2021 to May 2022 delivery year. Over the last couple of years, there has been a great deal of uncertainty in how capacity prices would be valued beyond May 2022. Before getting into details of the upcoming capacity auction, we should review what capacity is and why it matters.