Valley Forge, Pa. (May 21, 2020) – PJM Interconnection, the nation’s largest electric grid operator, has the resources available and is prepared to meet summer demand for customers in 13 states and the District of Columbia.
Power system operators at PJM are prepared to serve a forecasted summer peak demand for electricity of approximately 148,000 MW.
This assessment of PJM’s operational preparedness reflects a more conservative high peak-demand day and does not reflect the current decrease in demand experienced as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. PJM has over 187,000 MW of installed generating capacity available to meet customer needs, with sufficient resources available in reserve to cover generation that is unexpectedly unavailable, or for other unanticipated changes in demand.
“The summer is normally when electricity use is at its highest, and along with our members, we prepare for summer operations throughout the year,” said PJM President and CEO Manu Asthana. “Although the coronavirus pandemic has brought new dynamics for us to consider in our forecasting and operational preparedness, we’re confident that we will be able to meet customer needs.”
PJM meets electricity needs by procuring enough resources to satisfy peak demand plus its required reserves. Resources and energy are acquired through PJM’s competitive markets, which save customers billions of dollars each year.
Last year’s peak demand was over 151,000 MW, which occurred on July 19. PJM’s all-time, one-day highest power use was recorded in the summer of 2006 at 165,563 MW. One megawatt can power about 800 homes.
Preparing for New Variables
It remains unknown how the continuing pandemic will affect peak load this summer as air conditioning usage evolves among residential, commercial and industrial customers. Thus far, pandemic-related social restrictions that were introduced in mid-March have driven down peak demand approximately 10 percent, with closures of commercial, industrial and institutional power users more than offsetting the increased electricity use by people working from home.
PJM is also prepared to deal with how electricity use patterns could once again change as government restrictions due to the pandemic are lifted.
Coordination and Planning
PJM’s coordination with its members is key to ensuring that power flows where and when it is needed. PJM has worked with transmission and generation owners throughout the spring to ensure that critical maintenance and system improvements were completed.
A dedicated team of operators use sophisticated technology to balance supply and demand and direct the power grid 24/7 from PJM’s control rooms. They prepare multiple potential scenarios that could be impacted by weather, emergency conditions or equipment failure. They adjust resource output with changes in demand and ensure that no transmission lines or facilities are overloaded. The team also watches for unusual conditions and reacts to them to protect the electricity supply.
Since April, PJM has taken numerous measures to protect our employees, contractors and stakeholders while maintaining reliability, including adding a third system control room this spring that provides PJM with a high level of operational flexibility.