Want to Prevent Interconnection Deadlock? Make a Plan!

In part 7 of our interconnection series in GreenTech Media, Erica McConnell, former special counsel, and Stephanie Safdi, environmental law fellow with Shute, Mihaly and Weinberger LLP, attorneys for IREC, explain how DER interconnection issues can be overcome with proper integrated distribution planning.

We are all familiar with the importance of proactive public planning. Take the road network, for instance. Every day, hundreds of thousands of people commute into and out of cities, relying on well-placed and adequately sized roads to get them where they want to go. To keep traffic flowing, road planners must anticipate the number of commuters, their intended destinations, and the needs for road maintenance, new construction and alternative resources like public transit.

But we know what happens if the number of commuters ticks up without the infrastructure to accommodate them: honking horns, missed meetings and late school pickups as a result of long and frustrating traffic jams.

Unfortunately, just this sort of planning deficit is hindering the ability of utilities, states and energy providers around the country to accommodate the increasing numbers of generators and other distributed energy resources vying for access to the grid.

The penetration of distributed generation, particularly solar photovoltaics, has increased at an astounding rate since the early 2000s. In 2005, utilities and developers installed only 79 megawatts of grid-connected solar capacity across the U.S. By 2013, the capacity of annual grid-connected solar installations grew to 4,600 megawatts, more than 58 times the cumulative amount installed just eight years earlier. Total U.S. solar capacity at the end of 2013 had exceeded 12,000 megawatts, up from less than 100 total megawatts a decade before.

Read the full article.


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