On February 12, the Montana Department of Public Service Regulation released proposed interconnection rules that would amend the state’s current interconnection procedures. These proposed rules indicate the following four levels of review for interconnection applicants:
Fast Track Level 1 review: systems 10 kW or less
Expedited Level 2 review: systems 2 MW or less
Level 3 review: interconnection requests to area networks and radial distribution circuits where power will not be exported (area networks: systems and aggregate load on any area network must be less than or equal to 50 kW and use reverse power relays and/or other protection functions. Radial distribution: Individual system and aggregate load must be 10 MW or less and use reverse power relays)
Level 4 review: Any other interconnections under 10 MW that do not fall under levels 1-3.
The rule proposal indicates that utilities will need to submit standard applications for interconnection requests, standard agreements required by the interconnection rules and a schedule of fees for processing interconnection requests, all of which must be filed with and approved by the commission.
Currently, the state’s interconnection and net metering rules were intertwined, applying to systems up to 50 kW in capacity that generate electricity using hydropower, wind or solar energy. While these appear to have a much wider coverage than the state’s current rules, the proposal omits any language about liability insurance requirements. The proposal also requires a utility external disconnect switch for all interconnections, even for small inverter-based systems.
All comments must be received by March 31, 2010, at which time there will also be a public hearing to consider adopting these rules.