Federal Agency Rules on Commercial Wind Interconnection

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an official order on the Interconnection for Wind Energy (or “Grid Code”) case for large generators with a capacity of 20 MW and above. The order establishes interconnection standards proposed by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and negotiated by AWEA with the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC).

“AWEA is pleased that the agreement worked out with NERC has been approved by FERC without modification,” said AWEA executive director Randall Swisher. “The goal of NERC and the goal of the wind energy industry — to set clear standards for wind turbines to keep producing and supporting the grid during voltage disturbances elsewhere on the system (Low Voltage Ride-Through) — have been met. This is a central requirement for the wind industry’s rapid growth into a mature, mainstream utility-scale technology.” The Order provides: — Low Voltage Ride-Through (LVRT) requirements consistent with AWEA’s settlement with NERC in terms of the specifications that take into account the needs at different locations on the grid, and the minimal ability for regional variations. LVRT is the ability for a power plant to remain online during a momentary fault nearby. — A case-by-case determination of power factor (reactive power) requirements. The costs of adding more of this capability would be imposed on wind developers only when system impact studies show them to be necessary. — A transition period so that wind turbines need not be re-engineered to comply with new requirements. AWEA is also pleased that FERC denied requests that the rule be interim, and said it will hold until a new one is put in place. All transmission providers (investor-owned and almost all public power) must file to comply with the order by December 31, 2005. The FERC order was not unanimous; Chairman Kelliher expressed concern in a partial dissenting opinion about the evidence provided to ensure the rule was not preferential. AWEA has said that wind companies will gladly comply with reliability requirements identified in system impact studies, but that blanket requirements for reactive power with a power factor of negative 0.95 to positive 0.95 are often not needed by the grid and including capability is more expensive for wind turbines than for other technologies. “We believe that any other resource facing the same situation should be entitled to a showing of need before they incur significant costs and would not consider need-based determinations to be preferential,” said AWEA Deputy Policy Director Mike Jacobs. “We look forward to continuing to work with reliability authorities, regulators, and utilities on technical standards as they may evolve over time.” The full order is available on the Web at the following link.

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