PJM to work with transmission owners in selecting viable black start solutions

PJM Interconnection has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to investigate other black start options beyond what it currently has, and will work with its transmission owners (TOs) to evaluate proposals and select viable black start solutions based on the basis of critical load requirements, location, cost and operational considerations.

“We re-examined black start service and system restoration approaches in light of several developments such as new state and federal environmental regulations, which are causing the retirement of a significant number of existing black start generators,” Michael J. Kormos, PJM executive vice president – operations, said in a July 2 statement. “This RFP results from the new strategy developed by stakeholders, PJM and the independent market monitor working together for more than a year.”

PJM said on July 2 that it has launched an initiative to ensure the best mix of resources to restart the grid in the unlikely event that power would be lost across the entire system.

Restoring the system would require generators that can start up without an outside power source and deliver electricity to the grid, or what is known as black start service. Those resources, PJM added, provide the initial power to the transmission system to restart other generators.

PJM issued the RFP on July 1 as part of its first five-year selection process for black start service. The 90-day market window for proposals will be open until Sept. 30.

Existing black start generators are expected to continue providing black start service under their current commitment terms, PJM added.

In its RFP, PJM requested that parties interested in submitting a proposal provide a non-binding notification to PJM by e-mail by Aug. 30.

PJM also said that a black start unit must be able to close its output circuit breaker to a dead – that is, de-energized – bus within 180 minutes – or less, based on the characteristics of the specific critical load,  – of a request from the transmission owner or PJM.

A black start unit must also be capable of maintaining frequency and voltage under varying load and be able to maintain rated output for a period of time identified by each transmission owner’s system restoration requirements – typically 16 hours.

In order to be deemed feasible, designated potential black start units must be physically located within the PJM footprint, but PJM internal transmission zone borders are not an exclusionary factor to be considered eligible for consideration. Therefore, PJM added, a black start unit in one zone may be considered to serve in the restoration of another zone or a black start unit can be shared across more than one transmission zone.

Offers should be for resources capable of providing black start service by April 1, 2015, and this includes completion of a successful black start test before providing black start service. Since there is also time associated with updating restoration plans by transmission owners, PJM said it would prefer to have black start resources available and providing black start service well in advance of that April 1, 2015 milestone.

PJM will collaborate with the TOs to choose black start solutions for each zone on such criteria as a minimum of two black start units allocated to each zone with a critical load requirement; and ability to supply critical loads within targeted timeframes.

Among other things, PJM said that a black start unit and TO will coordinate the modification to the electrical protection system – transmission system and black start unit facility – to protect the black start unit and grid during black startup and operation. Each party will be responsible for the cost of any upgrades to its portion of the system.

In managing the grid, PJM dispatches about 183,604 MW of generating capacity over 62,556 miles of transmission lines. More than 61 million people live in the PJM region.

PJM also said that it will hold a pre-bid “Webex” meeting on July 9.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3263 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.