PJM authorizes transmission projects for units of Exelon, AEP, FirstEnergy

PJM Interconnection on Aug. 9 said that its board has authorized more than $636 million in electric transmission projects to strengthen the grid and reduce electricity costs, including a $320 million market efficiency project that would be built principally by Transource Energy, an American Electric Power affiliate, Exelon’s Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE), and FirstEnergy’s Allegheny Power.

An AEP spokesperson told TransmissionHub on Aug. 9 that PJM‘s current name for the overall market efficiency project is the “PJM 9-A market efficiency project,” and that the project would be officially named later.

PJM said that the project, which is expected to alleviate transmission congestion across the Pennsylvania and Maryland border, involves upgrades at existing substations, two new substations, two new transmission lines, and improvements to existing lines. The proposal originated out of PJM’s competitive process for transmission improvements, PJM said.

The AEP spokesperson noted that the voltage of the two new lines is 230 kV, and that the segments that are being rebuilt involve the Conastone—Northwest 230-kV line. It is being rebuilt by the incumbent utility, not Transource, she said.

The segments of the project assigned to Transource are:

·      A new 500-kV/230-kV substation in Pennsylvania that taps the existing Conemaugh—Hunterstown 500-kV line

·      A new 230-kV double circuit line between that new substation in Pennsylvania and the existing Ringgold substation in Maryland

·      A new 500-kV/230-kV substation in Pennsylvania that taps the existing Peach Bottom—TMI 500-kV line

·      A new 230-kV double circuit line between that new substation in Pennsylvania and the existing Conastone substation in Maryland

The project will need approval from FERC, as well as state-level approvals in Maryland and Pennsylvania, the spokesperson added. Construction would start after all of the required approvals are received. PJM targeted the project for a 2020 in-service date, and the final schedule will be outlined in the PJM Designated Entity Agreement for the project, she added.

A BGE spokesperson told TransmissionHub that BGE’s portion of the bundle of work involves reconductoring two existing 230-kV circuits, both on the same tower line, as well as connecting the new 230-kV line that will be built by Transource into BGE’s Conastone substation, which will require some modification to the Conastone 230-kV substation to be able to accept the new line.

BGE’s portion involves reconductoring its 230-kV circuits between the company’s Conastone (White Hall, Harford County, Md.) to Northwest #2 (Reisterstown, Baltimore County, Md.) substations. The spokesperson also said that BGE’s portion of the bundle does not involve any new substations, but the company will connect the new 230-kV line into BGE’s Conastone substation.

For BGE’s work, the reconductoring and the substation modification work is all within the company’s existing right of way and its existing substation, the spokesperson said, adding, “We have not determined when construction will begin yet as the project was just approved.”

PJM President and CEO Andrew Ott said in the statement, “This is PJM’s largest-ever market efficiency project, and we expect it will resolve a significant amount of the remaining transmission congestion in the eastern portion of PJM.”

The PJM Board approved a net $316.3 million in other new or changed projects to maintain the reliability of the regional electric transmission grid, PJM said.

A PJM spokesperson told TransmissionHub on Aug. 9 that those projects include:

Mid-Atlantic Region System Upgrades:

·      PPL Transmission Zone: Add a 200 MVAR shunt reactor at the Lackawanna 500-kV substation at a cost of $10 million

·      Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) Transmission Zone: Reconductor the one-mile Bergen—Bergen GT 138-kV circuit (B-1302) at a cost of $6.5 million

Western Region System Upgrades:

·      ATSI Transmission Zone: Build the new 345-kV/138-kV Lake Avenue substation and a breaker replacement at the Murray 138-kV at a cost of $40.28 million

·      AEP Transmission Zone: Convert the Sunnyside—East Sparta—Malvern 23-kV sub-transmission network to 69-kV (the lines are already built to 69-kV standards) at a cost of $5.7 million

·      Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) Transmission Zone: Cut-in of the Tazewell—Kendall 345-kV line into Dresden and raise towers to remove the sag limitation on the Pontiac—Loretto 345-kV line at a cost of $20.4 million

Southern Region System Upgrades:

·      Dominion Transmission Zone: Rebuild the Carson—Rogers Rd 500-kV circuit at a cost of $48.5 million, and rebuild 21.32 miles of existing line between the Chesterfield—Lakeside 230-kV at a cost of $22 million

PJM said that with the recently approved changes, it has authorized $29 billion in transmission additions and upgrades since the first Regional Transmission Expansion Plan was approved in 2000.

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Corina Rivera-Linares, chief analyst for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 10 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at corinar@pennwell.com .

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