NEW YORK, Dec 4 (Reuters) - PJM Interconnection on Thursday approved of $1.6 billion in electric transmission improvements needed to keep the lights on for 51 million people in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Midwest region, the power grid operator said in a release.
The biggest project approved was in New Jersey where Public Service Enterprise Group Inc's (PEG.N) Public Service Electric and Gas Co plans to build a 500-kilovolt line from the Branchburg substation in Somerset County to the Roseland substation in Essex County and then continuing to the Hudson substation in Hudson County.
PJM said PSE&G, of Newark, New Jersey, needed to build the line to address potential reliability violations in the region expected to develop by 2013.
In Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, PJM called for a change to improve the flexibility of the previously approved Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway (MAPP) project.
PJM now wants the builders to use a high voltage direct current line (HVDC) for the portion of the project that stretches under the Chesapeake Bay from Calvert Cliffs in Maryland to the Vienna substation in Maryland and then the Indian River substation in Delaware.
PJM authorized the MAPP project in October 2007. The total project will link the Possum Point substation in northeast Virginia to Indian River and has a required in-service date of June 2013.
Ultimately, MAPP is expected to continue from Indian River to the Salem substation in southern New Jersey, but PJM has not yet decided on an in-service date for the New Jersey-Delaware part of the project.
PJM uses its Regional Transmission Expansion Planning (RTEP) process to determine what is needed to maintain the reliability of the system over a 15-year period. To date, the PJM Board has authorized nearly $13.3 billion in RTEP investments.
PJM operates a grid serving 51 million people in 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. It also administers a $20 billion wholesale electricity market with a generating capacity of more than 168,000 MW. (Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by John Picinich)