New York — Northeastern US power grid operators are preparing for an influx of offshore wind development, as much as 18.6 GW by one estimate, and PJM Interconnection is receiving interest from transmission developers for who want to build infrastructure for future projects.
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"Offshore wind generation projects today can enter the PJM queue and be studied under the current interconnection process that is in place today, and the projects would be handled the same as any other technology," PJM spokesman Jason McGovern said in a recent email. "However, PJM has had increasing interest from transmission developers seeking to build offshore transmission facilities for as-of-yet unplanned future wind generation. PJM's rules are not currently set up for that kind of development."
The grid operator wants to improve the interconnection process to allow merchant transmission developers to request capacity interconnection rights, or equivalent rights, for non-controllable AC transmission facilities that will provide interconnection points for future offshore generation resources, according to a framing document discussed at a February Planning Committee meeting.
PJM envisions two phases of implementation. The first would be consideration of process changes to allow interconnection customers to request capacity interconnection rights for a radial line, then identify impacts and required network upgrades.
Phase two would consider process changes to allow flexibility for interconnection customers to connect the transmission facilities together for an "ocean grid," according to a PJM presentation.
Stephanie McClellan, a researcher from the University of Delaware, said during an American Wind Energy Association conference in May that plans announced by states add up to a projection of 18,642 MW by 2030. With New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey representing 14,430 MW of the total, and Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland and Virginia expected to account for the remaining 4,212 MW.
Thus far, ISO New England and the New York Independent System Operator are treating offshore wind grid interconnection in the same manner as other power generation technologies.
"The administrative process for offshore wind projects is the same as all other projects looking to connect to the grid," ISO New England spokesman Matthew Kakley said in an email. "They enter through our interconnection queue, and are studied to see what the developer needs to do to reliably interconnect to the grid," Kakley said.
COMPARISONS WITH EUROPE
However, the grid operator has noticed that many developers appear to be proposing technologies and configurations that leverage approaches that have been developed in the European offshore wind market, he added.
Europe has approximately 18.5 GW of offshore wind power capacity, according to trade group Wind Europe, while the US currently has 30 MW of operational capacity.
"The NYISO has system planning processes in place designed to evaluate proposed new facilities and determine if additional system upgrades are necessary to reliably interconnect to the grid, the system operator said in an email.
"Additionally, the NYISO Public Policy Transmission Planning Process provides a mechanism through which further transmission expansion could be realized if the state identifies such a need in the future," the NYISO said.
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