Southwest Power Pool plans changes to interconnection rules

Building on 2009 changes to its Generator Interconnection Procedures (GIP), the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) on Dec. 20 submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission revisions to its Open Access Transmission Tariff to modify its GIP rules.

SPP requested an effective date of March 1, 2014, for the proposed tariff revisions.

In 2009, SPP filed reforms to: streamline the study process, including creating a fast-track approach for certain customers that meet specific milestones; reduce the impact of suspended power projects on other projects; encourage speculative projects to enter into a preliminary queue; and discourage speculative projects from entering the final queue by increasing deposits and requiring project readiness milestones.

The 2009 changes were in part needed due to the fact that the number of pending interconnection requests in the queue was at an all-time high, which made it impractical for SPP to effectively manage the queue and efficiently study the requests under the previously used serial approach, which resulted in processing delays.

With the Dec. 20 filing, SPP said it proposes to build upon those earlier efforts and further adapt the queue process in order to account for current and anticipated issues in the SPP footprint. The main components of the revisions are outlined and explained in attached testimony of Charles Hendrix, Manager of Generator Interconnection Studies at SPP.

The new changes include:

  • Increased milestones required to enter the Definitive Interconnection System Impact Study (DISIS) queue;
  • Changes to study procedures to account for only in-service generators;
  • Increased milestones to enter an Interconnection Facilities Study;
  • Requiring a financial milestone at execution of a Generator Interconnection Agreement (GIA);
  • Limitations on extensions of in-service dates; and
  • Addition of a performance obligation in a GIA to build the generating facility.

Said the Hendrix testimony: “The proposed revisions are intended to add more certainty to the interconnection process for Interconnection Customers that have real projects and have deadlines to meet their generator in-service dates. While the process established in the 2009 Queue Reform was very successful in clearing the backlog of Interconnection Requests in the GI Queue that could not receive an Interconnection Study and getting GIAs finalized for those Interconnection Requests, the proposed process in 2013 is intended to provide a clear path for a generator to place its Generating Facility into Commercial Operation.”

He added: “Changes to the DISIS procedures provide more flexibility and useful information to Interconnection Customers before they enter the Interconnection Facilities Study Queue. The provision to collapse all DISIS clusters into a single cluster will greatly reduce restudy time. Assigning queue priority to projects who have met all requirements to enter the Interconnection Facilities Study should prevent blockages in the queue, greatly simplify cluster studies, and reduce viable project’s exposure to restudy. The requirement to have Interconnection Customers who proceed to the Interconnection Facilities Study be ready to authorize construction of network upgrades at the completion of the GIA as well as providing financial milestones and an initial down payment at GIA execution should ensure that only non-speculative requests sign a GIA and therefore do not hold interconnection capacity captive.”

SPP is a Regional Transmission Organization (RTO) that has 74 members, including 14 investor-owned utilities, 11 municipal systems, 13 generation and transmission cooperatives, four state agencies, 11 independent power producers, 12 power marketers and nine independent transmission companies. SPP currently administers transmission service over portions of Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas serving more than six million households in a 370,000 square-mile area.

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.