Despite the astoundIng increase of grid-connected solar from 2005 to 2013, U.S. utilities and developers still face interconnection challenges. With proper planning, however, and using integrated distribution planning (IDP), states can overcome major interconnection challenges, including closed circuits, that are hindering the integration of renewables.
Interconnecting DERs to the distribution grid is generally a “cost-causer pays” system: consumers who want solar pay for necessary distribution system upgrades, even when the upgrades will likely support future interconnection projects. What’s more, future projects benefit from investment in the grid’s infrastructure and could escape upgrade fees. Economics and fairness theories aside, this practice can kill perfectly viable and beneficial projects that didn’t budget for high upgrade costs and cause major delays in the process.
While perhaps lower on the radar screen from some other clean energy policy issues, hosting capacity analysis certainly warrants the full attention of stakeholders, policymakers and regulators working to transform the electricity grid. As a national organization that works state-by-state on these important issues, IREC observes that hosting capacity analyses are building blocks with which the grid of the future will be built.
It was a good month for California consumers and for clean energy progress across the U.S., as other states watched a landmark vote by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) that modifies but doesn’t undermine the state’s net energy metering program (NEM), and the value proposition of customer-generated distributed renewable energy.
What a week for energy news! And right in the middle of it all is what we believe to be a landmark paper. In the event you didn’t find time to take a look at it, here are the highlights.
Last week, Massachusetts formally adopted improvements to its interconnection procedures that make it easier for small renewable energy systems to connect to the distribution grid, without compromising safety or power quality. MA joins a handful of other leading states, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), adopting use of a 100 percent of minimum load penetration screen in its supplemental review process. Most simply, this is a recognition that smaller systems have less complex review needs.