Federal regulators launched proposed rules to speed up belabored interconnections of renewable and storage projects to enable a changing resource mix and to require grid operators to report on how they are responding to extreme weather events to increase reliability.
There are 1,400 GW of energy projects across the U.S. waiting to be connected to the grid with 400 GW of that energy storage projects considered essential to transitioning to a cleaner grid, Commission President Rich Glick said at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s June 16 meeting. Currently, it takes an average of 3.7 years for a project to hook to the grid, with only 23% making it through the process for a wide variety of reasons, he pointed out.
“It is imperative that we make dramatic improvements,” Glick said. “Low cost energy is very important.”
The notice of proposed rulemaking, approved unanimously, seeks to improve interconnection procedures, provide greater certainty, and prevent undue discrimination against new generation.
“We are excited to see the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission take bold action to clear interconnection queues across the country, which have swelled to more than a terawatt of generation and storage projects,” said Ben Norris, senior director of regulatory affairs at the Solar Energy Industries Association. He added he was “pleased to see that FERC followed many of SEIA’s recommendations.”
The proposed rule changes would include replacing today’s first-in-line approach with a new one that would prioritize the first project ready to serve power getting priority. It would impose more stringent requirements for developers to weed out uneconomic projects. It also proposes hard interconnection deadlines for transmission owners, who would be penalized for failing to meet them. It also would allow co-located and hybrid projects, such and solar and batteries, to connect to one interconnection point.
Commissioner James Danly, who frequently dissents from proposed rulemakings, voted for this one although he prefers to “let utilities grapple with their own problems” without federal interference. But the pending rule includes “many meritorious proposals,” he said.
The rulemaking also would include certain modeling and performance requirements for non-synchronous generating facilities. It also would require non-synchronous resources to continue providing power and voltage support during grid disturbances, according to FERC.
The comment period for this rulemaking period is 160 days
The impacts of extreme weather events on grid reliability also were addressed at the Thursday meeting. The Commission launched a proposed rule that would require transmission owners to submit one-time reports on their system’s vulnerability and how they plan to mitigate the impacts of extreme cold, heat, or hurricanes.
Commissioner Willie Philipps welcomed the proposal, approved 5-0, saying it is simple, requiring transmission owners to “use benchmarks to plan for reliability.”
FERC also responded to the California Independent System Operators’ response showing how it is making it easier for distributed resources to participate in its market under FERC’s Order 2222. The Commission directed CAISO to submit a follow-up compliance filing that revises its Distributed Energy Resource Aggregation model or demonstrates that its existing demand response models satisfy Order 2222.