The Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. (IREC) has just released the 2009 updates for its highly respected and influential rules and procedures for interconnecting and net metering distributed generation. IREC first developed its model net metering rules in 2003 and developed its model interconnection procedures in 2005.
Many of the model procedures that regulators and utilities look to in developing local standards have not been updated in the past three years. Since that time, the solar photovoltaics market has nearly tripled and there has been significant market growth for renewable distributed generation as a whole. To facilitate that growth, many states have adopted net metering and interconnection policies and many others have revisited and expanded their existing policies to incorporate lessons learned from facilitating increased penetrations of distributed generation. IREC’s model rule updates capture these evolved best practices and compile them into a template regulators and utilities can use as a starting point when drafting local rules.
IREC has been a participant in more than thirty state utility commission rulemakings regarding interconnection and net metering of distributed generation.
“As states have adopted procedures, both good and bad, IREC has witnessed the effects of those procedures on the development of the renewable energy markets within those states. In response, IREC has synthesized the best practices developed at the state and federal levels within these updated model rules,” says Jason Keyes with Keyes and Fox LLP, legal counsel to IREC for regulatory issues.
Among the important advances in interconnection procedures incorporated within the new IREC model IREC rules are:
- clarifying that third party ownership of facilities is permissible;
- raising the size eligibility for the simplest installations from 10 kilowatts to 25 kilowatts;
- allowing online applications;
- addressing state-jurisdictional facilities over ten megawatts; and
- updating provisions related to network interconnections.
IREC’s model net metering rules were highly influential in New Jersey and Colorado, which are widely considered to have the best net-metering policies in the United States. Following the lead of Colorado and other states , IREC’s updated rules no longer limit facility size, other than requiring that annual generation not exceed 120% of expected annual consumption.
Among the important advances in net metering rules incorporated within the model IREC rule are:
- increase in the size of systems eligible for net metering
- expansion of program capacity caps
- meter aggregation
- accommodation of third-party ownership of net metered systems
In an effort to capture the variation among states, IREC’s model rules also include footnotes that discuss the various approaches states have taken on certain issues. IREC believes this discussion will be useful to stakeholders to show areas where states have deviated from best practices.