Engineer Hyde Merrill Takes Apart PJM’s Black Box: Not Pretty

Expert testimony on PATH by electrical grid engineer Hyde Merrill has just been filed with the East Virginia State Corporation Commission.  Here is a link to Mr. Merrill’s testimony.

If you are an intervenor in the WV PSC PATH case, you need to read Merrill’s testimony carefully.  You have been reading for the last year on The Power Line that PATH is not needed.  Now, Merrill’s testimony tells us why.

November 17 is the deadline for all intervenors to file their written direct testimony in the WV PSC case.  If you do not take advantage of Mr. Merrill’s facts in your own testimony, you will have missed a major opportunity to stop PATH in WV.

Merrill’s testimony will also be filed in the WV case by Nov. 17, but the early filing in East Virginia gives WV intervenors access to his arguments now.

Here is some of what Mr. Merrill reveals about PJM’s black box:

  • PJM has recently revised its estimates of projected power flows in its CETO models downward, but has not adjusted its justification for PATH.  These lower power flows, if included in the PATH plan, would eliminate several of the NERC violations PJM is claiming.
  • Even PJM’s revised CETO values are too high, compared with similar projections used in New York and New England.  Merrill points to these higher than industry standard power flow estimates as the main way that PJM has rigged its argument for PATH.  Correct CETO values used in PJM modeling would completely eliminate all NERC violations claimed by PJM engineers in the PATH application.
  • PJM applies NERC standards incorrectly in its identification of NERC violations.
  • By including only demand management actions that have cleared PJM markets, PJM has completely inaccurate power demand estimates for time periods more than three years in the future.  PJM essentially eliminates the reductions demand management after 2012, resulting in much higher power flow estimates that would be expected.
  • PJM changed its assessment of voltage instability between 2008 and 2009 which resulted in identification of voltage drops appearing for the first time in the PATH argument.  Merrill could find no explanation of why this change was made in PJM’s testimony and believes that the changes may have been the result of calculation errors.
  • Merrill shows clearly how PJM has rigged how it counts or excludes new east coast power generators to suit its conclusion that PATH is needed.  Merrill shows how PJM undercounts new generators that would solve east coast power shortages, but overcounts generators to show how existing circuits are overloaded.
  • Investment of a few hundred million dollars in reactive power capacitors and transformers, much of which PJM is already planning to do even if PATH were built, would solve most of PJM’s NERC violations and all of its voltage instability problems.

Intervenors are the only way that citizens of West Virginia can really participate in the PSC decision process.  We intervenors have an obligation to make the best case we can against PATH.  Hyde Merrill gives us that opportunity.

Now it’s up to us to use what he has provided.