The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday proposed requiring transmission providers to adopt “first-ready, first-served” interconnection requirements in an effort to bring proposed generation and energy storage projects online more quickly.

“Our [interconnection] queues are clogged, it takes forever to get new generation through,” FERC Chairman Richard Glick said during the commission’s monthly open meeting, noting the delays potentially hurt grid reliability and prevent lower-cost energy from reaching consumers.

There are about 8,100 proposed generation and storage projects in interconnection queues across the United States, totaling about 1,000 GW and 400 GW, respectively, Glick said. Regional transmission organizations and other transmission providers are studying what grid upgrades are needed to safely connect those projects to the grid and how much the upgrades would cost.

The review process takes about 3.7 years to complete, on average, and about three-quarters of the projects drop out before finishing it, Glick said.

FERC aims to help remove the interconnection logjam by adopting tactics already used by some grid operators: studying interconnection requests in groups, or clusters, instead of one by one, and imposing requirements, such as larger financial commitments, that aim to weed out speculative projects that have little chance of being built.

The proposal also would impose fines on transmission providers that miss interconnection review deadlines, Tristan Kessler, a staffer with the FERC Office of Energy Policy and Innovation, said in a presentation on the proposal. Currently, deadlines are allowed to slip if the transmission providers make “reasonable” efforts to meet them.

In a move that could affect projects that combine generation with energy storage, FERC proposed requiring transmission providers to allow co-located resources behind a single point of interconnection to share a single interconnection request, according to Kessler.

Also, solar and other non-synchronous generating facilities would have to include in their interconnection requests the models needed for accurate interconnection studies, Kessler said. Those facilities would have to be able to ride through abnormal frequency and voltage conditions to address challenges associated with “momentary cessation,” he said.

The proposal is largely based on existing reform efforts and ideas, according to FERC Commissioner Mark Christie.

“It’s all ideas that have been talked about in technical conferences,” Christie said. “I don’t think anybody will see anything radically new.”

Also, FERC doesn’t want the proposal to disrupt efforts by RTOs and others to reform their interconnection rules, according to Christie. The PJM Interconnection, for example, filed a reform proposal this week that is broadly similar to FERC’s plan.

Comments are due 100 days after the proposal is published in the Federal Register, with reply comments set to be due in February.

The proposal is part of a sweeping effort by the agency to update its rules around the U.S. transmission system, which is seen as a key part of supporting the energy transition.

Earlier this year, FERC proposed reforming its transmission planning and cost allocation rules. Glick said he hopes the agency will next offer proposals around issues such as inter-regional transmission planning, incentives for building transmission facilities and how to manage transmission costs.

There is no timetable for upcoming proposals, but Glick told reporters after the meeting he hopes FERC can issue them “sooner rather than later.” 

Proposal sets ‘best practice’ standards, experts say

While some grid operators have been working in recent years to improve their interconnection processes, FERC’s proposal will provide consistent guidance across the country, according to Rob Gramlich, Grid Strategies president.

“It’s very hard to get regional agreement, particularly when nobody really knows what ultimately would be approved by FERC,” Gramlich said Thursday. “This [notice of proposed rulemaking] provides a lot more clarity to those processes.”

One of the key elements of the proposal is the imposition of strict deadlines for completing stages of the interconnection process, and fines for missing them, according to Gramlich.

“Making ‘best efforts’ hasn’t really worked and the deadlines keep slipping and there’s all kinds of delays and it’s almost been normalized now,” Gramlich said.


Source link