ISO helps advance mini-solar plants and other distributed generation

FOLSOM, CA – Commercial rooftop solar arrays and other small scale generation will find it easier to connect directly to local electricity grids. The California Independent System Operator Corporation (ISO) Board of Governors today voted to streamline the process for interconnecting distributed generation, which includes renewable projects.

The ISO will annually publish information showing quantities of potential distributed generation at various grid locations. The assessment will be used by load-serving entities, resource developers and local regulatory authorities in negotiating renewable energy contracts and developing projects.

“The new approach will align ISO policy with the state’s goal to accelerate distributed generation – smaller scale resources connected to utility distribution systems and located close to customers,” said ISO Board Chair Bob Foster. “This results in a diversified power mix, a key element of transitioning to a greener and more sustainable electricity future.”

The benefit of the new interconnection process is that distributed generation will obtain deliverability status in about half the time as the current process. Achieving “deliverability” qualifies projects as eligible for being counted toward the resource adequacy requirements of utilities and other load serving entities. Currently, it can take about two years to obtain deliverability status at the wholesale level because of the in-depth engineering analysis and customer consultation performed as part of the interconnection process.

“Distributed generation projects tend to be smaller and more numerous than power plant projects that connect directly to the ISO grid,” said VP, Market and Infrastructure Development Keith Casey, PhD. “We challenged ourselves to find a new and innovative way to help these projects meet a faster timetable for establishing deliverability and negotiating contracts with utilities and other load-serving entities.”

The Board approval today will enable the ISO to file tariff changes with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) so that the streamlined process can be integrated into the ISO’s 2012/2013 transmission planning cycle. With a timely FERC approval, the ISO will perform the first distributed generation deliverability assessment in November, publish the first results in February 2013, and conduct the first allocation of available deliverability shortly afterward.