WASHINGTON, April 19, 2017 - A coalition of clean energy groups voiced their support for proposed changes in interconnection standards by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), designed to improve the efficiency and transparency of interconnection requests and remove barriers to renewable energy development.

If adopted, the rule could substantially improve the process of obtaining interconnection with the electric transmission system – one of the highest hurdles for independent generators seeking to access the nation’s electricity markets.  The changes would apply to Large Generator interconnection procedures but could eventually apply to Small Generation interconnection procedures as well.

The rule has been several years in the making. Following a petition for rulemaking filed by the American Wind Energy Association and a May 2016 technical conference, FERC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in December 2017 and then published a proposed rule in the January 13 Federal Register.           

FERC proposes several changes to the interconnection process that would accommodate new energy storage technologies and allow existing transmission capacity to be used more efficiently. Included among the changes:

            (1) Allowing generators to request capacity that is less than the total capacity of their resource. This reform is especially important for energy storage because it would allow storage resources to avoid paying for expensive transmission upgrades that can be avoided by targeting the injection of power onto the grid to periods when excess transmission capacity is available even in the absence of the upgrade;

            (2) Allowing new generators provisional access to existing transmission capacity during the often lengthy period when transmission studies and upgrades are being completed;

            (3) A new process to allow use of “surplus” interconnection capacity. That is, capacity constructed by existing generators that is currently underutilized;

            (4) Requiring transmission providers to account for technological advancements in grid equipment in interconnection studies; and,

            (5) Requiring transmission providers to determine whether their existing processes adequately account for the unique characteristics of electric storage resources and to modify their processes if necessary. 

Clean energy and emerging technology groups who support FERC taking action offered the following comments:

  • “AEE (Advanced Energy Economy) supports FERC's ongoing efforts to remove barriers to the deployment of advanced energy. FERC is taking much-needed action to modernize the rules governing our transmission system by streamlining the process for interconnection of new resources. The Commission's proposed action would allow for more cost-effective and speedy deployment of renewable energy and energy storage systems, unlocking the benefits – like reduced costs and improved reliability--these technologies can provide to consumers and the grid.” – Arvin Ganesan, AEE vice president for federal affairs.
  • “ACORE (American Council on Renewable Energy) applauds the Commission for seeking to remedy the regulatory hurdles that have historically inhibited renewable energy sources equal access to the transmission system. Given the large and increasing role renewables play in powering America’s electricity markets, we are pleased to join with our partners in supporting the proposed improvements to the interconnection process.” – Gregory Wetstone, ACORE president and CEO.
  • “We agree with FERC that the time is ripe for regulatory and policy changes to interconnection processes to ensure lower costs for consumers. The Commission’s proposal, if finalized, will help remove barriers to cleaner, renewable sources of electricity that can help meet the growing needs of millions of Americans. It will facilitate the ongoing transformation of the grid in a timely, reliable and cost-effective manner. This effort will help expedite the development of new generation, like wind energy, which the vast majority of Americans want more of.” – Tom Kiernan, CEO, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)
  • “The Energy Storage Association is encouraged by FERC taking up the issue of streamlining regulations and eliminating barriers for interconnection of flexible and reliable energy storage technologies. Simplified interconnection procedures will lower costs for all ratepayers, and will help speed our transition to a more efficient, resilient, and affordable energy grid. With the rapid acceleration of energy storage on the grid, the industry recognizes that regulations need to be modernized to keep pace with innovation – and this will be a significant step towards an integrated, flexible grid.” – Matt Roberts, executive director, Energy Storage Association.