Photo credit: PJM Interconnection

You’ve likely heard us mention PJM, like when we asked for your help conserving energy during the extreme cold over the Christmas holiday. Read on to help answer questions you might have about PJM and how we work together. 

When it comes to your electricity, the service PJM provides is just one piece of the power puzzle. While we deliver electricity through our poles, wires and equipment to homes and businesses across our service territory, AEP works closely with PJM to make it happen. 

Who is PJM?

PJM is a non-profit entity that doesn’t own power plants or power lines, but it coordinates with companies that do in 13 states and the District of Columbia. When coordinating the electric system, PJM acts as the “air-traffic control” for power by directing the power produced at 1,300 generation sites required to meet the demand. They continually assess the power flow across 85,000 miles of high voltage transmission lines 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure the power can be delivered to all connected customers.  AEP Ohio is responsible for ensuring the power is delivered to the distribution customers we serve. 

As usage of electricity changes throughout the day, they must balance supply and demand by telling power producers how much energy to supply.  At the same time, they are working with Transmission Owners like AEP to ensure high-voltage transmission lines and facilities are working correctly.

How do PJM and AEP Ohio work together? 

AEP Ohio and PJM monitoring systems and grid operators are in constant communication. Computers monitor the amount of power flowing through lines and substations, help make plans for upcoming weather events, and can even automatically operate equipment to keep power flowing. 

If PJM is able to forecast potential issues with the supply of electricity, they could ask utility companies like us to take action and request that our customers conserve energy to protect the power grid. When this happens — in coordination with PJM — we’ll always work to provide you with real-time information. But sometimes, there simply isn’t time to do everything needed to prevent an outage.

What’s the difference between the emergency outages in June 2022 and the energy conservation request in December 2022? 

In June, major infrastructure damage prevented us from being able to deliver power to many homes and businesses in Columbus and eastern Ohio. Severe storms caused significant damage to high-voltage transmission lines that feed power to these areas. This damage meant there were fewer transmission lines available to carry electricity to customers. As temperatures climbed into the 90s and demand for energy grew, the remaining lines quickly became overloaded, requiring proactive emergency outages. Unfortunately, this was one of those emergency actions where there was no time to notify customers. This was an emergency action that had to happen in real-time to protect the grid and prevent potentially longer, more widespread outages. 

Over the Christmas holiday, the widespread, frigid temperatures across the country put extreme stress on the power system. With wind chills reaching -30 degrees, customers throughout the PJM area were using a lot of electricity to power their furnaces. The extreme temperatures also made it difficult for some power plants to operate at their full potential. This created a concern that there may not be enough power generated to meet the demands of customers. This prompted a proactive call for energy conservation across the entire PJM footprint. Thanks to your combined efforts, PJM was able to avoid emergency actions requiring us to enact rolling power outages.

Be on the lookout for more information in future newsletters on how the electric system works and check out the video below. 


16 responses to “Who is PJM & How Do We Work Together?

  1. If you and others are serious about reducing atmospheric carbon, it’s time to get serious about a revival of sentiment supporting nuclear energy. It’s really all there is, solar and wind are trivial by comparison and they can’t be built to cover maximum need intervals — like nuclear can.

    1. The issue with utilizing nuclear fission for energy usage is with the waste. The only responsible thing to do with by products when creating power is to repurpose them. This is easy with ash produced from coal and wood. With propane generation, there isn’t any waste. Now with nuclear fission however, the waste is radioactive and shouldn’t be buried like it has been for several years. What do you propose happens with the waste produced from nuclear power, sir?

  2. Sorry but I don’t buy that you didn’t have time to notify customers in June. First, you had time to notify the Franklin County Courthouse (I have a friend who worked there). You could have emailed your customers, too. Second, some neighborhoods, like ours, lost power, but others like Clintonville and Upper Arlington did not. Thirdly why couldn’t you have used rolling blackouts instead?
    That’s good your updating the power grid, but some of that work should’ve been done before.

    1. Thank you for your inquiry regarding the June outages. First, we apologize for the inconvenience and frustration you experienced. We know customers still have questions and confusion about what took place during the emergency forced outages. You can find some additional information, including FAQs, here.

  3. Nuclear energy is the answer. Quit procrastinating. We don’t have enough capacity now and our government wants to eliminate fossil fuels! How stupid is that?

  4. The US is has many years supply of coal. I’m sure with all the intelligent people in the US a way to use coal cleanly can be developed. It’s time to end this nonsense of thinking wind and solar can will be able to meet the energy needs of the US.

  5. Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima. Ya. Let’s do nuclear.
    Curb your appetite, put solar on every roof.

  6. If they really are serious about providing reliable power after abandoning coal and gas; why Isn’t there slow speed turbine generators on every lock and dam of every major river in the U.S.?

  7. If you are struggling now to meet the demand when there are extreme temperatures, what is going to happen when we All plug our EVs in at night??

    1. Hello Don, thanks for the question. We’re doing work now to plan for and be ready to meet EV charging demands in the future. We are looking at technology that will allow us to manage the flow of power to chargers to help balance the flow of power for other needs. In extreme circumstance, EVs may even prove to be able to flow power back into the grid.

    1. Good question, Kent. PJM stands for Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland, named after the states where the first utilities joined together.

  8. Just read an interesting article in National Geographic dated May 4th of 2021, “The Controversial Future of Nuclear Power in the U.S.”

    It looks like technology could be the answer to building more efficient nuclear plants if the enormous cost issues can be resolved. Other countries like China and Korea that are building nuclear more capacity have much lower labor costs.

    If you ever get a chance to watch the documentary “Planet of the Humans”, you will see that the future of wind and solar isn’t all that great and the negative effects on the environment are often worse that of fossil fuels.

    One answer may be to find more efficient ways to heat and cool our homes, much like LED light bulbs have reduced lighting costs.

  9. My bank account was hacked and I’m not sure you were paid for Feb. Please get in touch with me by email or phone so this can be corrected. Doris Coy

    1. We’re sorry to hear that, Doris. We’ve shared your message with our customer care team and they will be reaching out to you shortly. If you want to contact them directly, please call 800-672-2231 or message them on Facebook or Twitter.

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