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FERC Proposes Rule to Speed Up Solar Energy Grid Interconnection January 21, 2013

Posted by Laura Arnold in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Uncategorized.
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Dear IndianaDG Readers:
This is a very interesting FERC development. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) stated:
In the petition, SEIA made clear to FERC that it appreciates that all “retail” interconnections of solar generation directly to consumers are subject to state, not federal, jurisdiction and that SEIA respects these jurisdictional boundaries. However, SEIA believes that if FERC improves its own rules, they could serve as a model for states that would like to improve solar market access. (emphasis added)
There are likely a number of changes needed concerning Interconnection in Indiana found at: 170 Indiana Administrative Code (IAC) 4.3 Customer-Generator Interconnection Standards.
In particular, I have heard stories from developers that their solar PV interconnection applications have not been processed in a completely timely fashion. We may have more to report after the deadline passes for IPL Rate REP Interconnection and Contract by the end of this month. There is a clearly defined time frame for this process whether Interconnection is being requested for a feed-in tariff or merely net metering.
Do you believe that your interconnection application(s) are not receiving timely treatment? Please contact me and provide details. We may need to work on this now.
There are also other administrative rules pertaining to electric utilities which need a review and updating including 170 IAC 4.1 concerning Cogeneration and Alternate Energy Production Facilities. This rule sets out how electric utilities determine their “avoided cost”.
As used in this rule, “avoided cost” means the incremental cost to an electric utility of electric energy or capacity, or both, which, but the purchase from a qualifying facility or facilities, the utility would generate or maintain itself or purchase from another source.
Are you interested in working with us to update this administrative rule used to calculate “avoided costs”? Contact me.
Laura Ann Arnold
By Sharryn Dotson, Online Editor, Power Engineering January 17, 2013   |  13 Comments
Original article: http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2013/01/ferc-proposes-rule-to-speed-up-solar-energy-grid-interconnection?cmpid=SolarNL-Saturday-January19-2013

Tulsa, OK USA — The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has proposed changes to a rule that will speed up the process and reduce the costs to interconnect smaller-sized solar power projects to the grid while maintaining system reliability and safety. The changes were necessary, the organization claims, because of market changes that were due to state renewable energy goals and policies.

In 2005, FERC issued Order No. 2006, which established national interconnection procedures for generation projects that are 20 MW or less in size and subject to FERC’s wholesale jurisdiction. However, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) filed an interconnection rulemaking petition with FERC in February 2012, arguing that certain aspects of the order have become barriers to cost-effective and timely interconnections. Its proposal will allow solar projects that met certain technical screens to qualify for a “fast track” interconnection process. As a result, the amount of solar considered under the sped-up process is expected to as much as double.

The FERC’s new Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposes four specific reforms:

  • Allow interconnection customers to request a pre-application report from transmission providers to help them better evaluate points of interconnection before submitting a final request.
  • Increase the current 2 MW threshold to 5 MW in order to participate in the Fast Track Process. Eligibility would also be based on individual system and resource characteristics.
  • Revise customer options meeting and supplemental review for projects that fail the Fast Track screens.
  • Give interconnection customers an opportunity to provide written comments on the upgrades necessary for the interconnection.

SEIA said the changes are welcome news in the solar power industry. “We applaud FERC for recognizing the challenges facing wholesale distributed generation development, which is one of the fastest-growing segments of the solar energy industry,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA. “This important proposed rule has the potential to roughly double the amount of solar generation capacity eligible to be fast-tracked in the U.S.”

Resch said he hopes the states will look at the proposal as a prototype for their own interconnection rules.

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