PJM Completes Unique Dual-Primary Control Centers

Swift technology developments in the power sector and increasingly sophisticated security threats have prompted regional transmission organization PJM Interconnection to switch from its aging centrally dispatched legacy system to two “state-of-the-art” primary control centers as part of its $200 million Advanced Control Center (AC2) program.

The grid operator that serves parts of the Eastern Interconnection and administers a $35 billion wholesale electricity market said in November, when the switchover was completed, that the program was developed through more than five years of design, development, and testing. It was initiated in 2006 with Siemens Power Transmission & Distribution to define and develop a secure architecture and open messaging platform for modern, large-scale energy management and market management systems.

Primary reasons PJM opted to sail ahead with the initiative were to reduce total cost of ownership by technology standardization and to upgrade its systems to new standards for security and resiliency because PJM’s membership had more than doubled since its legacy systems were installed. Another reason was that the grid entity realized “innovations beyond marginal improvements in existing control systems” would be necessary to maintain power reliability, it said.

Essentially, the AC2program reduces risk because “the two fully staffed primary control centers better ensure uninterrupted operation of markets and grid control if functionality were lost at either center,” PJM said (Figure 5). The scalable, service-oriented architecture (SOA) for large energy management/market management systems promotes interoperability that “cannot be found in proprietary, legacy systems,” it said. The SOA-based system provides a common approach for software applications and computer-based infrastructure to exchange data and information. It also allows technology from other vendors to communicate and interoperate without special adaptation.

5. Two ways about it. PJM completed a $200 million program that essentially replaces an aging centrally dispatched legacy system with two state-of-the-art primary control centers. Courtesy: PJM

PJM said it is the only grid operator in the U.S.—and only one of three worldwide, including the British Columbia Transmission Corp. and Transpower in New Zealand—to have or have considered dual primary control centers. “The uniqueness of this PJM implementation is found in two elements—the scale across the business enterprise and, most importantly, its use in ‘real-time’ monitoring and control systems. While SOA has a proven history in other industries as the backbone of transaction-based software applications, to our knowledge, this is the first demonstrated deployment for real-time electric and market systems,” PJM spokesperson Paula DuPont-Kidd told POWER in November.

Fran Barret, director of the AC2program, explained that this approach is an enterprise solution with a strategic technological direction: management of data and smart grid integration. The program has enabled PJM to deploy and demonstrate the approach across its Energy Management & Market Management Systems and its “Innovation” platform. PJM’s customer-facing applications are expected to follow this direction as part of natural enhancement and replacement programs.