September 21, 2014

PJM Cuts Voltage, Dispatches DR in Arctic Blast: UPDATE

UPDATE: AS OF 5 P.M. TUESDAY, PJM SAID 36,000 MW OF GENERATION, 20% OF INSTALLED CAPACITY, WAS UNAVAILABLE DUE TO FORCED OUTAGES.

PJM operators dispatched demand response this morning after cutting voltages and calling on spinning reserves last night as frigid temperatures stressed generators and created record loads across the RTO.

Officials said they would likely call on DR again to meet tonight’s projected evening peak of 142,000 MW.  That would break the RTO’s all-time winter peak of 138,600 — set this morning.

Officials were forced to take action last night after losing more than 2,000 MW of generation as peak loads hit 132,000 MW, 5,000 MW above PJM’s forecast.

RTO officials called on spinning reserve from about 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., then issued a 5% RTO-wide voltage reduction from 7:50 to 8:50 p.m. “We were able to recover,” Adam Keech, director of wholesale market operations, told the Operating Committee in a briefing this morning.

Today’s morning peak, which broke the previous 2007 record, led officials to call on about 1,900 MW of demand response about 6 a.m. and to purchase 1,100 MW of emergency power from NYISO and MISO between 6 and 11 a.m.

The dispatch of DR pushed prices from $1,000/MWh to $1,800/MWh – over $2,000, including congestion, in some locations.

Officials said they could be forced to issue a second voltage reduction or brief rolling blackouts if conservation efforts and imports fail to make up any shortfalls this evening.  “We do not expect to take that [load shed] action,” Executive Vice President for Operations Mike Kormos said during a media call today.

PJM and state regulators urged consumers to reduce energy use during the emergency. “Every little bit helps,” Kormos said. “There’s 60 million people in our footprint. If everyone does their part, that could easily add up to one nuclear plant, which is 1,000 MWs.”

“We’re very close [to generation limits],” Kormos added. “The last couple hundred megawatts could allow us to not have to take any forced interruptions.”

Officials did not immediately have details on the number of generators out of service due to the cold. Kormos said some plants suffered mechanical problems and tube leaks or were unable to convert to backup fuel. “We’ve seen everything,” he said.

PJM received a waiver from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission under Order 787, allowing RTO officials to share information with natural gas pipelines serving the region. PJM held conference calls with pipelines Friday and Monday and individually validated gas nominations for the RTO’s gas generators.Keech said there were no natural gas curtailments.

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