Speed up interconnection studies with enforceable timelines and third-party competition, say SEIA and allies

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The clean energy industry has presented a plan to accelerate interconnection studies through efficiency, timelines, and competition, in comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

So that interconnection studies for large-scale renewables projects may be completed in “months instead of years,” three clean energy trade groups have asked FERC to launch an “accelerated, stand-alone” interconnection rulemaking to implement their recommended approach.

The groups are the solar association SEIA, clean energy trade group Advanced Energy Economy, and renewables and transmission trade group American Clean Power Association.

The plan would provide interconnection customers the option of using third-party consultants to produce required studies.To enable both transmission providers and third parties to produce such studies efficiently, the plan calls for creation of standardized unit pricing and criteria for planning and construction, especially for facilities studies. Those studies can now take over two years to complete, the groups say.

The plan would also require transmission providers to meet minimum standards for interconnection study timeliness and accuracy, with “enforceable, non-recoverable financial penalties for underperformance.”

The groups say that timelines and penalties, together with third-party competition, “will incentivize transmission providers and owners to devote sufficient resources and staffing to completing accurate studies on time.”

Among 21 near-term and long-term solutions, the groups also recommend:

  • Clear guidance for converting, during the study process, stand-alone resources to hybrid or co-located resources (e.g., by adding storage),
  • Requiring transmission providers, upon receiving an interconnection request, to evaluate grid-enhancing technologies that could substitute for added transmission capacity, and
  • Making interconnection customers responsible only for network upgrades “local” to their project.

The groups asked FERC to require all transmission providers to use practices comparable to those of transmission providers that have “already implemented” the reforms identified in their comments.

Of FERC’s five commissioners, currently three are Democrats and two are Republicans.

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