National Interconnection Eased for Small Projects

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued standard procedures for the interconnection of generators no larger than 20 MW – a move that removes barriers to the development of needed infrastructure by reducing interconnection uncertainty, time and costs. The rule is expected to help 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 distributed and renewable energy projects.

The rule reflects input from a broad-based group of utilities, small generators, state commission representatives, and other interested entities who came together to recommend a unified approach to small generator interconnection. This rule reflects many of these consensus positions as well as those of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). The rule harmonizes state and federal practices by adopting many of the best interconnection practices recommended by NARUC. It should help promote consistent, nationwide interconnection rules for small generators, the Commission said. “Today’s rule takes us a step closer to truly non-discriminatory, competitive bulk power markets,” said FERC Chairman Pat Wood, III. “Advances in technology have led to a growing industry of small power plants that offer economic and environmental benefits. 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.” The rule directs public utilities to amend their Order No. 888 open access transmission tariffs to offer non-discriminatory, standardized interconnection service for small generators. The amendments should include a Small Generator Interconnection Procedures (SGIP) document and a Small Generator Interconnection Agreement (SGIA). The SGIP contains the technical procedures that the small generator and utility must follow in the course of connecting the generator with the utility’s lines. The SGIA contains the contractual provisions for the interconnection and spells out who pays for improvements to the utility’s electric system, if needed to complete the interconnection. The rule applies only to interconnections with facilities already subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission; the Commission emphasized that it does not apply to local distribution facilities.
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