"The independent operator of the regional power grid is moving to make a series of changes to its system. Its goal: fix impediments that even it agrees has helped thwart the development of new power plants, something the Christie administration has been pursuing for more than a year.
PJM detailed several steps it is taking to expedite new power plants, including overhauling its much criticized generation interconnection system. The system is designed to ensure that new power plants tying into the regional grid do not lessen its reliability by requiring high voltage lines to carry more power than they are capable of. The interconnection process has been blamed for the time it takes to win approval as well as driving up costs for those developers seeking to build new power plants.
Michael Kormos, senior vice president of PJM, said the organization is considering retooling the process to allow it to "fast track" developers that are ready to move forward with their projects, a proposal suggested by Hess Corp, which is one of the three projects to win subsidies from New Jersey.
PJM also is considering having independent parties do the studies of what interconnection upgrades are needed when a new power supplier is trying to hook into the grid. That comes in response to questions raised by New Jersey whether there is a conflict of interest with existing transmission owners doing the studies, as is now the case, because of potential benefits that could derive to an affiliate if the required upgrades discourage new plant construction."
The article says that it's too little, too late though, and PJM's last minute swerve won't go far enough to resolve the dispute.
"If anything, the rhetoric seems to be turning more heated, with state officials talking about investigating whether structural market power exercised by incumbent generators creates barriers to the entry of new suppliers.
"We shouldn't gloss over the issue of market power," said Stefanie Brand, director of the Division of Rate Counsel. "I think the board should look at it more closely."
At a day-long hearing held in the Statehouse Friday, PJM officials and power suppliers dismissed that allegation, saying studies by independent monitors have found no evidence of such behavior. Instead, several consultants argued that New Jersey's own efforts to encourage power plant development are undermining the competitive market and discouraging investment in the state."
Yeah, right, PJM, guilty much?