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The board of grid operator PJM Interconnection has approved $4.6 billion in additions and upgrades to the high-voltage electric transmission grid that serves 61 million people in 13 states and the District of Columbia.

According to PJM, the plan includes a $1.2 billion project in northern New Jersey to address short circuit and thermal problems in that area. In addition, more than $3 billion of the changes to the system are upgrades to connect new generating facilities.

PJM reports that baseline reliability projects with a total estimated cost of $1.5 billion were identified in 15 different utility territories. The projects include building a new 500 kV line within an existing right-of way in the Dominion region and new substations in several regions to reinforce lower voltage systems, as well as additional upgrades to improve the reliability of the grid.

The grid operator notes that due to the combined effects of other planned transmission upgrades, adjustments in annual load forecasts, generation retirements and other factors, some previously approved transmission projects are no longer needed and have been cancelled. Among the projects being removed from PJM's transmission plan is the Toronto-Harmon 345 kV line in FirstEnergy's American Transmission System Inc.'s territory.

"With more than 20,000 megawatts of generation retiring in the PJM region and new gas plants being built in various locations to replace them, it's essential for the transmission system to keep pace," comments PJM President and CEO Terry Boston. "The good news is that we continue to identify and approve projects needed to make the grid more reliable and resilient."

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