Guiding best practices for connecting distributed clean energy to the grid
IREC today released its nationally applicable IREC Model Interconnection Procedures, 2019. The model procedures reflect the latest evolution in best practices to facilitate higher penetrations of distributed energy resources (DERs) on the grid, integrating new technologies while maintaining grid safety and reliability.
The components of the procedures are intended to streamline a more efficient and cost-effective project development process, which saves money and time for consumers, developers and utilities alike.
A distributed energy resource — i.e., solar panels and energy storage — serves the energy needs of homes, businesses and communities at or near where that energy is used.
“IREC’s Model Interconnection Procedures have, for over a decade, been a key tool to help state regulatory commissions, utilities and the clean energy industry connect distributed energy resources to the grid in a streamlined, efficient and cost-effective manner,” says IREC VP-Regulatory Sara Baldwin. “The 2019 edition provides necessary updates to reflect the latest insights from diverse states and markets.”
Initially developed in 2005 and updated in 2009 and 2013, IREC’s Model Interconnection Procedures help inform and guide state utility regulators, energy industry professionals, utilities, policymakers and other energy DER stakeholders as they develop and/or refine the rules for grid access, known as interconnection.
The model procedures are informed by IREC’s intervention in dozens of state interconnection rulemakings over the past three decades and participation in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) process to develop and update the Small Generator Interconnection Procedures (SGIP).
Among other changes, the 2019 Model Procedures include the following important updates:
- Interconnection of Energy Storage Systems: An initial framework for review of energy storage systems seeking to interconnect to the distribution grid. An evolving space, the guidance is intended to begin to address the uniquely flexible and controllable nature of energy storage.
- Requirements for Publishing a Public Queue and Reporting: To ensure key data is publicly available, so all stakeholders have fair access to information about how the interconnection process is proceeding, to inform decision making.
- Updated Dispute Resolution Process: Creation of an interconnection ombudsperson role to provide for a neutral third party to help resolve and mitigate interconnection disputes more efficiently. A fair and efficient dispute resolution process can help address interconnection challenges, while avoiding the need for more time-intensive complaints before utility commissions.
- Clarification to the Material Modifications Provisions: Specifically addressing the need to clarify what level of change requires a resubmittal of the interconnection application, for both existing interconnected projects and projects in the queue.
“As technologies and markets for distributed energy resources continue to rapidly evolve, it is important to ensure that interconnection procedures adapt accordingly,” says Sky Stanfield, partner at Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger, LLP, IREC’s regulatory attorneys. “In this refresh of IREC’s Model Interconnection Procedures, we include important refinements that have come out of the use of these procedures across the country, and we also take the first steps towards defining a clear interconnection process for energy storage systems.”
“As states recognize the need to keep their interconnection procedures current, we encourage them to emulate the best practices outlined in the 2019 update of IREC’s Model Interconnection Procedures,” adds IREC President/CEO Larry Sherwood. “The model procedures are a tool to save commissions time and resources, and also serve as a foundation upon which to build strong clean energy markets and achieve energy policy goals.”