California ISO continues to refine its plant interconnection process

Since 2008, the California ISO (CAISO) has worked with stakeholders to continue to refine its interconnection process, and has made some recent changes in that process, CAISO told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in an Oct. 30 quarterly report.

“Most recently, the Commission conditionally approved the ISO’s generator project downsizing initiative in December 2012, which provided a new one-time downsizing opportunity for customers with projects that are otherwise viable, but for the ability to reduce the MW generating capacity of the proposed facility,” CAISO noted. “The ISO has completed the downsizing initiative and has provided the results to each project.”

CAISO said it is now in the process of amending each generator interconnection agreement (GIA) to reflect these results.

CAISO has also commenced a new stakeholder initiative called Interconnection Process Enhancements. “The initiative has spawned into a number of separate paths, one for queue management and the other paths for the remaining issues,” it explained. “The queue management topics were recently approved at the September 12, 2013 ISO Board of Governors meeting and the ISO filed tariff revisions to implement the queue management topics on September 30, 2013 in Docket ER13-2484. Commission action on the tariff revisions is pending. For the remaining topics, the ISO posted a straw proposal for the Interconnection Process Enhancements initiative on July 18, 2013 and held a stakeholder meeting on August 14, 2013 to discuss the proposal. The ISO has subsequently posted additional documents and held further stakeholder meetings regarding some of the remaining topics under the initiative.”

CAISO staff will be taking to the ISO Governing Board in November two additional topics: future downsizing policy; and disconnection of completed phase(s) of projects due to failure to complete a subsequent project phase. Both of these topics will require new tariff language that will be filed with FERC early next year.

These efforts are part of a continual commitment by CAISO to refine and improve the process and to respond to the dramatic increase in interconnection requests in response to California’s renewable portfolio standards (RPS) policy, which mandates that Load Serving Entities satisfy their load requirements from 33% renewable energy sources by 2020, CAISO noted.

CAISO breaks down its interconnection queue into a number of different sub-categories. For example, there are the serial interconnection customers, with currently in that queue:

  • eight steam turbine projects, with one using biomass and the other seven using solar;
  • 13 wind turbine projects;
  • seven gas projects;
  • four solar photovoltaic projects; and
  • one pumped storage hydro project.

“In Q3 2013, one project achieved commercial operation and two projects withdrew,” said CAISO about the serial group, without naming any of the projects. “Currently there are 33 active serial study projects which have not achieved commercial operation, and nine of those projects still need to complete the negotiation of their GIAs.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.