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PJM forum evaluates technology to enhance power markets, grid operations


Emerging Technology Forum advances pilot program

Studying data centers with storage, Dynamic Line Ratings

New York — PJM Interconnection launched a new stakeholder process called the Emerging Technology Forum to investigate the viability of new and evolving power grid technologies like data centers acting as flexible load and Dynamic Line Ratings to reduce transmission congestion.

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The forum's mission is to support PJM's Advanced Technology Pilot Program which "provides a testing ground to study the viability of integrating emerging technologies that enhance system reliability, operational and market efficiency, and resilience," according to the group's charter.

"We are in a new phase of the pilot program," Scott Baker, PJM senior business solution analyst for applied innovation, said in an Aug. 31 post on the grid operator's blog.

"This forum increases coordination with members, with opportunities for input and more open discussion, not just for new technology but also ideas for pilot projects," Baker said. The ETF's first meeting was on Aug. 27.

Work currently underway includes a project with Microsoft to evaluate data center load flexibility for facilities equipped with battery-based storage systems, PJM said. Data centers are an increasing part of electrical load in PJM's footprint that can potentially act as flexible load that can both absorb electricity and distribute power back to the grid, according to PJM.

PJM is testing new technology with Microsoft against PJM's real-time regulation signal to test the data center capability, Baker said.

The ETF will not make decisions on selecting pilot projects and PJM will maintain authority over the ATPP, according to the charter. The ETF will be a non-voting forum, but may conduct non-binding polls where appropriate.

The forum will report updates and recommendations to the Markets and Reliability Committee, Planning, Operating, and Market Implementation Committees as appropriate and those committees will have the ability to direct matters to the forum. The group will periodically report on its activities to those standing committees, the charter said.

Advanced technologies

Other technologies that have been evaluated as part of the pilot program include a University of Delaware vehicle-to-grid initiative and other work into distributed and aggregated loads providing ancillary series as a demand resource, according to a PJM presentation.

Additionally, PJM and the North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation are collaborating to test new software and controls that manage distributed energy resources across cooperative distribution systems in North Carolina, PJM said in the blog post.

Dynamic line rating technologies will also be discussed at upcoming ETF meetings.

Dynamic line rating technologies have the potential to increase the efficiency and reliability of the power grid by allowing operators to better understand how transmission line capacity increases or decreases with changing weather conditions, according to PJM.

Transmission lines are typically operated using a static rating calculated using "near worst-case values" for assumed weather conditions, according to a PJM presentation.

Dynamic Line Ratings can be calculated in real-time by installing a data collection sensor on or near an existing transmission line to collect conductor temperature information. For example, wind can cool conductors allowing more power to be safely transmitted on the line.

In an economic simulation, PJM found DLR's saved $4.2 million in annual transmission congestion costs and all the congestion on the line was eliminated.

In order to align DLR's within PJM's markets, considerations include 24 to 48 hour forecasted ratings needed for inclusion in the day-ahead market and impacts to the financial transmission rights market would need to be considered, according to the presentation.