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NERC Monitoring Forecasted Extreme Cold Weather Events

To reinforce a recent statement on the upcoming extreme cold weather across much of the country, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation on Jan. 9 said it is monitoring the impending extreme cold weather events forecast across much of North America, starting this weekend and expected to continue through next Tuesday.

“This extreme weather pattern of arctic cold and heavy rain across most of the lower 48 states has the potential to create significant challenges, especially in major metropolitan areas, as forecast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’​s National Weather Service,” NERC said.

NERC is urging generator owners and operators, fuel suppliers, reliability coordinators, balancing authorities and transmission operators to evaluate energy adequacy. It also said that load-serving entities should review their demand projections to ensure the highest levels of reliability.

“Securing fuel supplies, readying units through winterization and dispatching fuel will require prudent attention throughout the long, holiday weekend,” NERC said.

NERC noted that it works with industry stakeholders to prepare for and mitigate the potential impacts of such significant weather events, adding that “its comprehensive approach includes mandatory Cold Weather Reliability Standards, guidelines on cold weather preparations, follow-up on Winter Storm Elliott recommendations, alerts, industry webinars and the publication of seasonal assessments.”

PJM Issues Cold Weather Advisory for Western Region for Jan. 14–17

Meanwhile, the PJM Interconnection on Jan. 9 said that it has issued a Cold Weather Advisory for its Western Region for Jan. 14–17 ahead of forecast frigid temperatures in that region.

When PJM expects significantly cold weather to impact all or parts of the PJM footprint, it issues a Cold Weather Advisory to provide a two-to-five-day notice that forecast temperatures may call for a Cold Weather Alert.

This is meant to give generation owners ample time to proactively prepare their units to operate during pending cold weather and to provide information to PJM about their operating availability, capabilities and limitations to help PJM operators plan for the extreme weather.

Temperatures are expected to reach the single digits in PJM’s Western Region, which will drive up the demand for electricity in that area.

The Western Region in PJM is made up of the following transmission zones and control areas:

  • AES Ohio (formerly Dayton Power & Light)
  • American Electric Power (AEP Ohio, Appalachian Power, Indiana Michigan Power and Kentucky Power)
  • American Municipal Power Transmission
  • ComEd
  • Cleveland Public Power
  • Dayton Power & Light
  • Duke Energy Ohio and Duke Energy Kentucky
  • Duquesne Light Company
  • East Kentucky Power Cooperative
  • FirstEnergy South – former Allegheny Power Systems (West Penn Power, Mon Power, Potomac Edison)
  • FirstEnergy West – former American Transmission Systems, Inc. (Penn Power, Ohio Edison, The Illuminating Company and Toledo Edison)
  • ITC Interconnection, LLC
  • Ohio Valley Electric Corporation

PJM’s Winter Weather Preparations for 2023–2024

PJM said it expects to have more than 181,000 MW of resources to meet the forecasted winter peak demand of approximately 137,000 MW plus an average forecast of just under 4,000 MW of electricity exports to neighboring systems.

In 2023, PJM implemented winter readiness measures beyond its annual Cold Weather Preparation Guideline and Checklist, seasonal fuel and emissions surveys, and other operations and planning steps.

These measures were implemented as a result of lessons learned from recent extreme weather events, including Winter Storm Elliott in December 2022, when the grid was stressed, but PJM was able to maintain reliable electric service.

“PJM and its stakeholders have made a number of improvements to rules and processes regarding generator performance and overall cold weather reliability, in the short term and long term,” the grid operator said.

For this winter, PJM has:

  • Improved generator operational and seasonal reporting requirements
  • Adjusted short-term forecasting to better capture long-term extreme weather trends;
  • Enhanced communication protocols with generation owners before and during cold weather events to ensure that required preparations and actions are received, understood and acknowledged; and
  • Received FERC approval to allow generators to update their Day-Ahead Market operating parameters in real time, providing PJM operators with greater situational awareness of generators’ capabilities

Generators are also reporting specifics of cold weather preparedness and operations to PJM as a result of new requirements this season introduced by NERC, including identifying and taking corrective actions for equipment that failed during Winter Storm Elliott or may be at risk of failing under similar conditions.

PJM noted that it analyzes the expected demand for electricity, weather predictions and other factors to develop its forecast for winter operations.

PJM’s ongoing Cold Weather Preparation Guideline and Checklist for generation owners includes everything from increasing staffing for weather emergencies to performing required maintenance activities to prepare equipment for winter conditions. The checklist is now mandatory.

Each year, PJM performs winter readiness assessments in advance of the cold weather months, collecting data on fuel inventory, supply and delivery characteristics, emissions limitations, and minimum operating temperatures.

PJM meets with federal and state regulators and neighboring systems to review winter preparations. PJM also conducts weekly operational review meetings with major natural gas pipeline operators serving generators in the PJM footprint to coordinate operations with the pipelines that supply a large portion of the gas generation fleet.

In 2023, PJM and the Independent Market Monitor developed and published guidance for generators on how best to provide timely and accurate information about their operating parameters and availability during periods of natural gas pipeline operating restrictions.

ERCOT Issues Weather Watch

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas on Jan. 10 issued a Weather Watch from January 15-17 due to forecasted extreme cold weather across the ERCOT region, higher electrical demand, and the potential for lower reserves.

Grid conditions are expected to be normal during an ERCOT Weather Watch.

An ERCOT Weather Watch is an advance notification of forecasted significant weather with higher electrical demand and the potential for lower reserves.

ERCOT said it continues to monitor conditions closely and will deploy all available tools to manage the grid, continuing a reliability-first approach to operations. 

In 2023, January peak demand was 65,632 MW, with the current all-time peak demand record of 85,508 MW, set on August 10, 2023.

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