FERC adopts changes to small generator interconnection rules

To keep up with changing conditions, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is adopting a final rule that makes changes to the Small Generator Interconnection Procedures (SGIP) and Small Generator Interconnection Agreements (SGIA), which cover small generating facilities up to 20 MW in size.

Originally adopted in Order No. 2006, the pro forma SGIP and the pro forma SGIA establish the terms and conditions under which public utilities must provide interconnection service these small power projects.

“As concerns generator interconnection, regions of the country are experiencing significant penetrations of small generation and increasing requests for small generator interconnection,” FERC said in a final rule that will be published in the Dec. 5 Federal Register and will go into effect 60 days later. “In Order No. 2006, the Commission anticipated the need to revisit its small generator interconnection regulations as the industry evolves, requesting stakeholders to convene informal meetings ‘to consider and recommend consensus proposals for changes in the Commission’s rules for small generator interconnection.’”

FERC added: “The time is ripe to promulgate such changes in light of the increased penetration of small generator resources, the continued focus by states and others on the development of distributed resources, and the need for this Commission to have its regulations and policies ensure just and reasonable rates, terms and conditions of service.”

The changes are:

  • incorporate provisions that provide an interconnection customer with the option of requesting from the transmission provider a pre-application report providing existing information about system conditions at a possible point of interconnection;
  • revise the 2 MW threshold for participation in the Fast Track Process included in section 2 of the pro forma SGIP;
  • revise the customer options meeting and the supplemental review following failure of the Fast Track screens so that the supplemental review is performed at the discretion of the interconnection customer and includes minimum load and other screens to determine if a Small Generating Facility may be interconnected safely and reliably;
  • revise the pro forma SGIP Facilities Study Agreement to allow the interconnection customer the opportunity to provide written comments to the transmission provider on the upgrades required for interconnection;
  • revise the pro forma SGIP and the pro forma SGIA to specifically include energy storage devices; and
  • clarify certain sections of the pro forma SGIP and the pro forma SGIA.

“The reforms should ensure interconnection time and costs for Interconnection Customers and Transmission Providers are just and reasonable and help remedy undue discrimination, while continuing to ensure safety and reliability,” FERC wrote.

Many commenters support the commission’s proposed reforms, FERC noted, including the American Wind Energy Association, ClearEdge Power, ComRent International, Community Renewable Energy Association, Duke Energy and the Electricity Storage Association.

“Without these reforms, the continued growth in Small Generating Facilities could cause inefficient interconnection queue backlogs and require some Small Generating Facilities to undergo the more costly Study Process when they could be interconnected under the Fast Track Process safely and reliably,” FERC said. “Costs resulting from such inefficiencies in the interconnection process would ultimately be borne by consumers. The record in this proceeding does not refute the nature of the changes now occurring and expected to continue.”

As an example of proliferating small power projects, approximately 3,300 MW of grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) capacity were installed in the U.S. in 2012, compared to 79 MW in 2005, the year Order No. 2006 was issued. The cumulative capacity of U.S. distributed PV is projected to double from mid-2013 to the end of 2015. Similarly, installed wind generation with a capacity of 20 MW or less has increased in the contiguous United States from 1,185 MW in 2005 to 2,961 MW in 2012.

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.