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PJM ready to meet demand as low temperatures sweep across region

As temperatures far below normal were sweeping across its footprint, the PJM Interconnection LLC offered a preview of its system operations at a Dec. 13 committee meeting. The grid operator expects to have 183,665 MW of electric capacity resources ready to go to meet the forecast peak demand of 135,548 MW.

PJM's winter peak for 2016 was 130,680 MW on Jan. 19 when temperatures were rather mild. Its all-time winter peak was 143,295 MW, which was set on Feb. 20, 2015.

Chicago's high temperature on Dec. 15 was predicted to be 12 degrees F, and Cleveland was expected to reach 13 degrees F, with snow, according to weather.com. On Dec. 16, Washington, D.C., was predicted to reach a high of 30 degrees F, 17 degrees below average.

More than half of the resources ready for this winter are committed through capacity performance, PJM said. This is the first winter that certain resources will be held to strict requirements for performance under new market rules that were put in place to ensure that resources are available when they are needed.

"PJM and our members have taken steps to prepare for this winter's operations, from participating in drills to examining incidents that could impact reliability," PJM Vice President of Operations Michael Bryson said. "With the added strength of resources meeting the stricter capacity performance requirements, we are in a better position to handle the cold weather."

Capacity performance was instituted after the PJM region experienced extreme weather conditions, known as a polar vortex, in January 2014. The regional transmission operator was faced with limited operating parameters, high gas prices and offers that triggered high uplift payments.

To prepare for the coming winter, members of the RTO participated in a "worst case scenario" training exercise to prepare for the winter weather, simulating the sudden loss of natural gas pipelines, system issues and temperature extremes. The RTO conducted a fuel inventory survey and the gas/electric coordination team worked with pipelines and local distribution companies on improving communications.

PJM will see 2,800 MW of additional generation in service by the end of December, and said reliability will benefit from new transmission upgrades in systems managed by Dominion Resources Inc., Exelon Corp. subsidiaries Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. and Commonwealth Edison Co., and American Electric Power Co. Inc.