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Waiting Game: How the Interconnection Queue Threatens Renewable Development in PJM

Waiting Game: How the Interconnection Queue Threatens Renewable Development in PJM

Full Title: Waiting Game: How the Interconnection Queue Threatens Renewable Development in PJM
Author(s): Dana Ammann
Publisher(s): Natural Resources Defense Council
Publication Date: May 18, 2023
Full Text: Download Resource
Description (excerpt):

For more than 20 years, U.S. policymakers have made steady progress toward a future in which renewable energy is supported by a reliable electric grid and widely available to consumers at a low cost. Favorable economics, demand from clean energy buyers, and public policies like state renewable portfolio standards (RPS) have been successful in driving renewable growth that has met and surpassed early expectations. In 2022 the Biden administration passed the seminal Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the most ambitious climate legislation in U.S. history. With renewables now cheaper than fossil fuels and new incentives through the IRA, renewable power is expected to become widely available more quickly and cost-effectively than ever.

As policymakers and private companies alike look ahead to meeting their renewable targets, public attention has turned toward interconnection queues, overburdened and slow processes run by regional transmission operators (RTOs) that have become a major barrier to wind and solar development. These long-overlooked processes study proposed new power generation, identify necessary transmission infrastructure upgrades to bring that power online, and allocate those upgrade costs to developers. As
developer interest in new renewables has skyrocketed, interconnection queues have struggled to keep pace, resulting in an ever-increasing backlog of projects and years-long delays. Because renewables are often located where poles-and-wires infrastructure is least developed, developers are also left with high upgrade costs.

The PJM Interconnection (PJM) is the largest RTO in the United States. As of September 2022, there were more than 202 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy resources waiting in the PJM queue, over 95 percent of the total queue. (For context, there were 200 GW of clean energy resources operating in the entire United States in 2021.) This report explores the extent to which PJM’s interconnection delays will hinder states in the region in meeting their statutorily mandated RPS targets for renewable energy procurement, and the impact of its proposed reforms. Our analysis shows that the PJM interconnection queue reforms will just barely provide enough renewable energy to meet aggregate RPS demand through 2027; states with the most ambitious RPS targets are likely to lack adequate supply to meet their demand starting before 2027.

All statements and/or propositions in discussion prompts are meant exclusively to stimulate discussion and do not represent the views of, its Partners, Topic Directors or Experts, nor of any individual or organization. Comments by and opinions of Expert participants are their own.

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