Iowa Board Finalizes Interconnection Rules, Finally

At long last, the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) has adopted rules for interconnection as of May 26, 2010.  This proceeding has been a work in progress for the past five years, since EPAct ‘05 required states to consider adopting interconnection standards.   Iowa previously had loose interconnection guidelines that required utilities to have an interconnection agreement but by most definitions the previous law was rather vague in many respects.

Many of the participants agreed to use interconnection rules adopted by Illinois as a starting point for revising the Board’s generator interconnection rules, rather than the draft model interconnection procedures set forth by the IUB.  Despite a lengthy debate on several issues, the final rules did not vary greatly from Illinois’ interconnection standard.

The new rules require standardized application forms and interconnection agreements. The rules also provide four different levels of review, Levels 1 through 3 provide expedited review and Level 4 involves a more in-depth process. Level 1 provides an expedited review process for very small lab-certified generation facilities with capacities of 10 kW (i.e., 10 kVA) or less.  Level 2 provides an expedited process for lab-certified generation facilities of 2 MW (i.e., 2 MVA) or less that seek interconnection with either a radial distribution circuit or a spot network that serves only one customer.  Level 3 provides an expedited process for lab-certified generation facilities that will not export power onto the utility’s system and which seek interconnection with either area networks (limited to generation facilities of 50 kVA or less) or radial distribution circuits (limited to generation facilities of 10 MVA or less). All three expedited review levels presume the interconnection will require no construction of additional facilities by the utility. If additional facilities are required by the utility to accommodate the interconnection, or if the application cannot successfully complete Levels 1, 2, or 3, the application will receive more extensive review under Level 4.  Systems over 10 MVA must start with a Level 4 review.

General liability insurance, such as a homeowner’s policy, will be sufficient for smaller generation facilities to interconnect. While proof of coverage must be provided, the utility does not have to be named as an insured on the policy, a requirement that apparently creates difficulties with some carriers. Also, the application fees adopted by the IUB impose only minimal filing fees on the smallest facilities.

Utilities may require customers install, own and maintain a lockable external disconnect switch.  Application fees are reasonably set at:

Level 1: Application fee of $50.00

Level 2: Application fee of $100 plus $1.00 per kVA

Level 3: Application fee of $500 plus $2.00 per kVA

Level 4: Application fee of $1,000 plus $2.00 per kVA, to be applied toward any related subsequent studies

These rules apply to Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) qualifying facilities and alternate energy production (AEP) facilities, and to rate-regulated electric utilities serving Iowa such as MidAmerican Energy Company and Alliant Energy/Interstate Power and Light Company. The amendments will become effective on July 21, 2010.

Sources: IUB Gold Memo Regarding Electric Interconnection of Distributed Generation Facilities, Final Order Docket RMU-2009-0008


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