Connecting to the Grid Simplified for Small Energy Producers

The rule allows simpler interconnection for systems of less than 2 MW and even simpler procedures for systems of 10 kilowatts or less that use inverters.

Published: 25-May-2005

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WASHINGTON, DC, US, May 25, 2005 (Refocus Weekly) Small generating facilities in the United States will benefit from new procedures which “reduce the uncertainty, time and costs associated with connecting systems to the grid.”

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission standard procedures affect interconnection for facilities under 20 MW of capacity, and the rule directs public utilities to offer “non-discriminatory, standardized interconnection service for small generators and to provide technical procedures for connecting to the grid.” Public utilities must provide an agreement with contractual provisions for interconnection and which explains who pays for improvements to the utility's electric system, if needed to complete the interconnection.

The rule allows simpler interconnection for systems of less than 2 MW and even simpler procedures for systems of 10 kilowatts or less that use inverters. The rule applies only to interconnections with facilities subject to FERC jurisdiction, and does not apply to local distribution facilities.

“In light of the importance of the rule-making, the Commission has designated it as Order No. 2006,” which will “preserve grid reliability, increase energy supply, and lower wholesale electric costs for customers by increasing the number and types of new generators available in the electric market, including development of non-polluting alternative energy resources,” explains FERC. The rule reflects input from a broad group of utilities, small generators and other stakeholders, “who came together to recommend a unified approach to small generator interconnection.”

The rule reflects many of consensus positions and those of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, and harmonizes state and federal practices by adopting many of the interconnection practices recommended by NARUC. “It should help promote consistent, nationwide interconnection rules for small generators,” it adds.

“Advances in technology have led to a growing industry of small power plants that offer economic and environmental benefits,” says FERC chair Pat Woods. “Standardization of interconnection practices across the nation will lower costs for small generators, help ensure reliability, and help ensure reasonably-priced electric service for the nation’s wholesale power customers.”

Two years ago, FERC issued a final rule for facilities larger than 20 MW and proposed a rule for small generators. Of the 70 entities that commented on the proposed rule, most supported efforts to remove barriers to the development of small generators.

The final rule, ‘Standardization of Small Generator Interconnection Agreements & Procedures,’ takes effect in two months. Regional transmission organizations and independent system operators have an additional 90 days to comply.

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