The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued a proposed rule that will, if finalized, expedite and reduce the cost of solar project interconnection while maintaining electric system reliability and safety, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
In 2005, FERC issued Order No. 2006, which for the first time established national interconnection procedures applicable to generation projects that are 20 MW or less in size and subject to FERC's wholesale jurisdiction.
Order No. 2006 was groundbreaking, and the procedures were voluntarily adopted by many states to apply to the retail interconnection process, SEIA says. However, demand for solar energy has grown dramatically since Order No. 2006 was issued more than seven years ago. Certain aspects of order have become unnecessary barriers to cost-effective and timely interconnections.
Seeing a need for updated federal standards, SEIA filed an interconnection rulemaking petition with FERC in February 2012. The proposed rule will allow solar projects that meet certain technical screens to qualify for a fast-track interconnection process, thus eliminating the need for costly and time-consuming studies. As a result, the amount of solar considered under the fast-track processes is expected to as much as double, according to SEIA.
‘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,’ says 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.
‘SEIA also urges the states to consider using FERC's proposed updated rule as a model and starting point for updating their own interconnection rules,’ Resch adds.