A recent report by the Natural Resources Defense Council finds that states partially or entirely in the PJM regional transmission territory may not be able to achieve their renewable portfolio standard targets through 2027. The long queue for connecting projects to the electric grid is to blame.
The PJM Interconnection coordinates the movement of electricity through all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
David Kolata, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board in Illinois, noted that Illinois has no problems with energy supply, especially given its nuclear plants. But it has a significant role to play as a clean energy supplier for the region. “We’re in the midst of an energy transition that potentially has really tremendous consumer and environmental value, and we’ve made
a lot of strides in this direction, but in order to keep the progress going we need to make sure we’re building more renewables,” he said. “There are many projects ready to go, but they cannot get connected to the grid. Especially as we have transportation electrification and as buildings electrify, it is going to be important that we build new renewables.”
In 2022, the PJM came to an agreement with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reform its interconnection process. This included reviewing interconnection requests in batches rather than individually. These reforms will also prioritize proposals that are more developed and more likely to proceed, to reduce withdrawals from the queue that slow down the process.
However, these reforms will not take effect until this summer, and renewable projects put on an expedited fast track, will be evaluated under the new rules. The backlog of proposals filed before 2021 needs to be dealt with under the old
procedures. Most new projects, incentivized by the Inflation Reduction Act, cannot be considered until the interconnection backlog is gone, in 2026, according to PJM and advocates’ estimates.