PJM and its members and stakeholders continuously plan, prepare and coordinate operations to meet the critical need for electricity for 65 million people in 13 states and the District of Columbia, no matter the weather or unforeseen system conditions.
The 1,436 electric power generators and 85,103 miles of transmission lines in the PJM region are owned by a wide range of public utilities and independent companies. As a federally designated grid reliability authority, PJM coordinates the operation of these facilities on a moment-by-moment basis using a principle referred to as Security Constrained Economic Dispatch.
During the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, PJM took many proactive steps to safeguard our employees, the grid and our campuses and reliably operate the high-voltage electric system.
2021 COVID-19 Pandemic Highlights
- PJM's internal Incident Response Team met regularly on pandemic-related issues and kept employees and stakeholders informed.
- Our electricity markets and the bulk power system continued normal operations.
- PJM remained in close communication with regulatory, industry and government entities.
- PJM supported all market applications from our campus and remotely.
- PJM sequestered teams from operations from December 2020 through March 2021 and operated out of three different control rooms for the second time during the pandemic.
- For employees not working on our campuses, PJM continued its remote work posture and virtual stakeholder meetings throughout 2021.
- In July 2021, PJM conducted a three-week pilot program for employees on its Valley Forge campus, which made it easier to return to campus.
COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement Established
In late fall, PJM announced it would require COVID-19 vaccination for all on-campus personnel and for
- The COVID-19 vaccine requirement applies to employees, contractors, vendors, members and other stakeholders who visit a PJM campus or attend any in - person PJM event, on or off campus.
- Virtual attendance options remain available for stakeholder and member meetings.
Flexible and Informed Approach
PJM's COVID-19 plans were conducted in a phased approach that is continuously informed and refined with guidance from:
- Pennsylvania governor's office on COVID-19
- Pennsylvania Department of Health
- Montgomery County, PA
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- PJM Pandemic Plan
- PJM business impact assessment
- PJM epidemiologist consultant
Peak load conditions typically take place during the hottest weather of the year. PJM and its members continually coordinated to prepare for peak load operations throughout 2021.
By summer, the energy impacts surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic subsided, and demand for electricity began to return to normal. PJM’s Load Forecast Report estimated that summer demand in 2021 would exceed that of 2020.
“Keeping the power flowing and the grid reliable is the core mission for PJM and our member companies. We understand the critical importance that electricity plays in the daily lives of the 65 million people we serve.”
Manu Asthana, President & CEO
Prepared For Winter
Each year, PJM collaborates with members and stakeholders to perform winter readiness assessments and exercises well in advance of cold weather. Peak season preparations include the winter operations forecast. To prepare for winter, PJM analyzes the expected demand for electricity, weather predictions and other factors. Long before temperatures fell, PJM enhanced its winter preparedness to reflect dynamic market conditions, surveyed for fuel supply concerns and implemented lessons learned from extreme cold weather events in early 2021.
Cold Snap Drove Record Exports
As severe winter weather took hold in mid-February and disrupted grid reliability in Texas, the Midwest ISO region and the Southwest Power Pool region, PJM and its members maintained the reliable operation of the bulk power system in our footprint.
At the same time, PJM exported record amounts of electricity to support increased demand experienced by neighboring grid systems and states.
Prior close coordination by PJM members and other stakeholders to prepare for unforeseen outages or system disruptions positioned PJM to provide this critical assistance.
During winter storm Uri, PJM exported
on Feb. 15, 2021.
Extreme Weather Analysis Drives Close Coordination for Winter 2021/2022
Preparing for winter is a team effort.
PJM's preparation checklist for generation and transmission owners includes everything from increasing staffing for weather emergencies to performing required maintenance activities to prepare equipment for winter conditions. Review of these winter procedures and preparations with federal and state regulators and neighboring grid operators are a fundamental part of PJM's winter preparations.
In addition, PJM conducts weekly review meetings with major natural gas pipeline operators serving natural gas-fired generators in the PJM footprint. This regular cadence of communication coordinates operations with the pipelines critical to PJM's gas generation fleet.
To help ensure critical supplies are in place, PJM also collects and assesses data on multiple factors, including:
- Fuel inventories
- Supply and delivery characteristics
- Emission limits
- Minimum operating temperatures
When preparing for the 2021/2022 winter, PJM and its stakeholders partnered to expand the playbook for winter preparedness. Extensive industry and government studies of severe cold weather issues in Texas and southwest states resulted in additional precautionary measures to ensure the reliable flow of power:
- Coordinating with transmission owners to identify and prioritize electric service for critical facilities in emergencies
- Collecting more information from suppliers to address potential fuel supply concerns
- Enhancing coordination with the natural gas industry
- Implementing weekly data requests for assessment of fuel availability
- Studying load shed procedures to ensure reliable power to critical load
Supply Chain Issues Addressed for Reliability
To enhance critical reliability tools, temporary changes to PJM Emergency Operations procedures were approved by stakeholders in the fall of 2021. Spurred by volatile commodity markets affecting coal and natural gas supplies worldwide, temporary changes to PJM Manual 13 granted needed flexibility to manage generation dispatch in response to possible local or regional reliability concerns resulting from fuel supply shortages.
The changes were designed to help in the event of potential fuel supply shortages or extreme weather.
“These enhanced, coordinated efforts were incredibly helpful as we worked with our stakeholders to prepare for a reliable and resilient system even in the most extreme weather conditions.”
Mike Bryson, Senior Vice President – Operations