Reduced growth rate in customer load and added generation were among the factors that led PJM Interconnection’s (PJM) transmission planning staff to recommend to the PJM board that the Potomac Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH) and the Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway (MAPP) lines be removed from PJM’s regional transmission plans, according to Steve Herling, vice president of planning at PJM.
“We’ve announced today at our transmission expansion advisory committee meeting that we will be recommending to the PJM board that both the PATH and MAPP projects be canceled and removed from the RTEP, that’s the Regional Transmission Expansion Plan,” Herling said during an Aug. 9 media briefing.
Since the projects were approved in 2007, PJM has evaluated those and other projects each year based on changing system conditions and changing forecasts, he said.
“In particular, with the recession in the economy, we’ve seen a continuing trend of reduced growth rate in customer load over the past years,” Herling said. “We’ve seen a general increase, in particular in eastern PJM, in the amount of demand response that is available to us and most recently, earlier this year, we’ve seen a number of new generation projects – generation additions in eastern PJM – clearing through our capacity market.”
Five new generators in eastern PJM cleared in an auction in May: three in New Jersey, one in Delaware and one in Maryland, he said.
“The changes that we’ve seen over the recent years had initially justified delays to in-service dates of both of these projects, but the analysis that we did last year in 2011 showed a significant delay in the need for the projects,” he said. “[W]ith all of the uncertainty that we had at the time related to the EPA regulations, the potential for generation retirements in PJM and really the unknown situation of how [and] whether the economy was turning around, or at what rate it would turn around, our board decided to hold both the PATH and MAPP projects in abeyance until we could take a look at this year’s load forecast and, in particular, the results of this year’s capacity auction.”
PJM has completed analysis as part of its 2012 base line RTEP, and has not identified a need for either of the projects through PJM’s 15-year planning horizon, and consequently, the recommendation to the board is to remove both lines from the RTEP.
“The board will be meeting later this month on Aug. 24 to consider our recommendation at that time and ultimately, it will be their decision as to how we proceed with the projects,” Herling said.
According to TransmissionHub data, PATH, a joint venture between Allegheny Energy and American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP), is a proposed 275-mile line, 765-kV transmission line that is designed to supply power from the Amos substation in Putnam County, W.Va., to a proposed electrical substation in Frederick County, Md. Allegheny Energy merged with FirstEnergy (NYSE:FE) in February 2011.
Pepco Holdings‘ (NYSE:POM) MAPP project, according to TransmissionHub data, would enable transfer of power sources west of the Chesapeake Bay from the Delmarva Peninsula to the mid-Atlantic region. The project includes about 69 miles of AC lines and 83 miles of DC lines. One of the key components is a 39-mile HVDC undersea cable across the Chesapeake Bay.
In August 2011, the project’s online date was shifted from 2015 to the 2019-2021 timeframe.
An AEP spokesperson told TransmissionHub on Aug. 8 that the company is disappointed with the recommendation and will focus on other transmission projects. Similarly, a FirstEnergy spokesperson told TransmissionHub on Aug. 8 that the company is pursuing a number of other transmission projects. Also, a Pepco Holdings spokesperson told TransmissionHub on Aug. 8 that the company will review the recommendation and await a final decision from the PJM Board of Managers later this month.
No impact on Susquehanna-Roseland
Herling said PJM’s analysis indicates that the need continues to exist for the 500-kV Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line, which is proposed by PPL (NYSE:PPL) subsidiary PPL Electric Utilities and Public Service Enterprise Group (NYSE:PEG) subsidiary Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G).
While that line is “up in the northeastern corner of our system,” the PATH line crossed the middle of the system and the MAPP line crossed the southeastern corner, from roughly Northern Virginia into the Delmarva Peninsula. “The generation that cleared…is too far south to have any significant impact on Susquehanna-Roseland,” Herling added. “The problems driving Susquehanna-Roseland are very much localized to that northeastern corner of New Jersey.”
The dynamics of the system have changed dramatically over the last five years, he said, noting that the need for the MAPP line was originally driven by overloads on the system as well as the possibility of voltage collapse under certain system conditions.
“The addition of new generation, in particular in southern New Jersey and in Delaware, had a huge effect on reducing those impacts and as a result, we are not now seeing those potential problems and therefore we’re not seeing a need for the line,” he said.
PJM will continue to look at all the options for solutions, including the possibility of new transmission lines in the future, but “at this point, it would be impossible to say whether any individual line would be necessary or not at some future date,” Herling said.
He said he doubts “that circumstances could change to a point where we would consider putting the [Susquehanna-Roseland] line in abeyance at this time.”
PJM still projects violations of criteria that must be resolved through its responsibilities to ensure compliance with planning standards, he said.
“The reason we put PATH and MAPP into abeyance was that those kinds of issues had been moved far out into the future,” he said. “The issues around Susquehanna-Roseland are upon us now and we are actually concerned in our ability to operate the grid around those issues over the next couple of years. It will be very challenging, so at this point, it’s really critical that we get that line in service as quickly as possible.”