Association Calls for Interconnection Change

As evidenced by last week’s blackout across Northeastern states and parts of Canada, the power grid is poorly equipped for getting power from where there is surplus, to where it is needed. The US Fuel Cell Council (USFCC) said that the solution is not necessarily to build more transmission lines but to encourage alternatives such as distributed power generation.

Washington D.C. – August 22, 2003 [] According to USFCC, the first step is to create an environment for distributed resources to flourish. An example of which is in a recently published standard that is now available to guide interconnecting distributed generation technologies to the grid. The US Fuel Cell Council, which participated in the writing of the standard, has sent a letter urging state Governors to adopt the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ “IEEE 1547 Standard for Interconnecting Distributed Resources With Electric Power Systems.” This standard addresses the performance, operation, testing, and safety of interconnection products and services. Distributed generation technologies – including fuel cells, renewables, micro turbines and other ancillary services – can be located closer to where the power is needed, reducing traffic on the already “grid-locked” superhighways of the electrical distribution system, said the council. Distributed generation technologies can help states begin to address the challenge of satisfying electrical demand for such critical loads, by providing flexibility to site these technologies where they do not require additional high voltage transmission lines, said the USFCC. The USFCC said newspapers reported that fuel cells kept the lights on for offices, households and the Central Park Police Precinct during the blackouts. Since 1999, more than 350 individuals participated in the working group that formulated the IEEE 1547 standard, which can now be used in legislation and rulemaking, and by utilities in developing technical requirements for interconnection agreements. Members of the working group included those from manufacturers of electrical components, fuel cells, PVs, gas turbines, and diesel generators, as well as those from utilities, government laboratories, and state and federal governments. “Passage of IEEE 1547 shows what can happen when the industry pulls together for the common good,” said Robert Wichert, technical director for the USFCC and participant on the IEEE 1547 Working Group. “This will have a significant effect on not only the fuel cell industry, but other distributed generation technologies, and the stability of our country’s electric grid.”


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