Thursday, February 21, 2019

PJM Generator Notification Plan Gets Mixed Review

By Rory D. Sweeney

VALLEY FORGE, Pa. — PJM has found a way to provide generators with the performance assessment hour alerts that owners requested, but it’s not going to be easy.

The problem is how to get the PAH alerts from PJM’s emergency procedures channel to the Inter-Control Center Communication Protocol (ICCP) and Distributed Network Protocol channels that unit operators say they monitor with far more frequency. The process would translate the emergency procedure signal into a yes or no signal for each resource.

“We can do it. It’s not the prettiest thing,” PJM’s Rebecca Stadelmeyer told the Operating Committee last week. “This is not an easy plug and play. This is a lot of systems actually talking together, even though it sounds like it’s just a simple output. To get there is going to take us some time and some money.”

The minimum estimate of eight months and $150,000 is expected to increase as outside vendors are contracted and PJM staff are redeployed from other major projects, she said. The cost of the changes means that other projects that were already planned may be delayed.

There may be additional costs for generators to make updates to properly receive the signals.

Brock Ondayko of American Electric Power pointed out that PJM has had since at least April to integrate this request into its budgets and avoid any interference with other projects. (See “PJM Considering Notification of Performance Assessment Hours,” PJM Markets & Reliability and Members Committees Briefs.)

“Maybe there needs to be a better mechanism to describe things that stakeholders are asking for to be considered in the budget for the following year,” he said.

All generating units above 100 MW have ICCP access to receive the upgraded signals, PJM confirmed. Those without the feeds will only be able to receive PAH alerts through the emergency procedures channel.

The RTO must map every resource to each region, transmission owner zone and sub-zone. Stadelmeyer warned that units won’t be excused from nonperformance penalties that arise from incorrect mapping or “broken signals” stemming from owners’ failure to make changes needed to receive the signals.

PJM’s request for feedback on whether to move forward with the plan failed to muster much enthusiasm, even with committee chair Mike Bryson twice stepping in to solicit comments. Finally, Sharon Midgley of Exelon said her company is “very much interested” in the project being completed despite the complications. Jim Benchek of FirstEnergy also offered support, but he cautioned that “the devil’s in the details” on the project’s cost-benefit ratio.

The development of the project will likely be tracked through PJM’s new Tech Change Forum, Bryson said.

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