The North Carolina Pork Council, the North Carolina Poultry Federation, the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association, the Public Staff of the North Carolina Utilities Commission, Duke Energy Carolinas LLC and Duke Energy Progress LLC told the commission in a June 27 filing that a break is needed in the interconnection queue process for power projects using animal waste as fuel.
On May 17, the Pork Council and the Poultry Federation filed a petition requesting that the commission waive the queue requirement in the North Carolina Interconnection Standard for facilities using animal waste resources to generate electricity, require electric public utilities to evaluate these facilities for interconnection on a priority basis, and continue the waiver until the express target levels originally set in state law are met.
The parties that made the June 27 filing have met since that May 17 petition and have come to agreements on aspects of this case. Based on information provided by Duke Energy Carolinas, Duke Energy Progress and Dominion North Carolina Power, four interconnection requests for animal waste facilities are currently pending, with all four of them in the Duke Energy Progress Interconnection Queue. They are:
- Prestage AgEnergy of NC LLC, queue entry as of 8/14/2015, 1,610 kW (ac) of capacity for this project, poultry;
- Douglas Allen Jernigan, queue entry 4/21/2015, 800 kW (ac) capacity, swine;
- Johnson Breeders Inc.-2nd Installation, queue entry 5/20/2016, 350 kW (ac) capacity, poultry; and
- Legacy BioGas LLC-Biomass. queue entry 12/4/2015, 4,200 kW (ac) capacity, swine.
The parties to the June 27 filing saidthat several factors weigh in favor of granting the relief requested by the Pork Council and the Poultry Federation. Among others, the parties noted the recurring non-compliance with the state mandate for power projects using animal waste and the negative effect this failure has on achieving the important state policies and objectives embodied in those sections.
In addition, the parties noted the congested state of the Duke Energy Progress distribution-level interconnection queue, the substantial delay associated with the interconnection process and the costs associated with delay, particularly in the case of a capital-intensive investment like an animal waste-to-energy facility. The parties also pointed to the complexities of animal waste generating facilities and the multi-faceted, interdependent transactional components of such projects, from securing feedstock to selling electricity and renewable energy credits (RECs). Further, the parties understand – based upon the best information available – that the consequences of adjusting the queue consistent with the parties’ recommendations will be limited.
“The Parties do not intend this agreement to be precedent,” they wrote. “Nevertheless, it is likely that other animal waste resource facilities will need to interconnect before the requirements [of the state animal waste law] are met and there are no signs that the interconnection process will accelerate any time soon. Thus, the Parties believe the issues raised by the Petition for Relief warrant further consideration in a collaborative process involving the interested parties where the need for further acceleration of animal waste resource projects would be evaluated and if appropriate, criteria developed to assess future requests for relief. In the interim, and in the event there are other requests for a waiver of the queue requirements, the request should be judged on the merits that exist at the time the request is made.
“In light of these considerations, the Parties recommend that, upon issuance of an order by the Commission addressing this Petition for Relief, each of the four (4) Existing Animal Waste Interconnection Requests be moved to the front of the study queue and be assigned in series the next four available positions in the Study Process. Any prioritization among the Existing Animal Waste Interconnection Requests will be based on their respective original Queue Numbers. In addition, each of the four projects would take on the payment obligations arising from its new position at the place of interconnection so that if, as a result of moving to the front of the study queue one of the four animal waste resource projects is positioned such that upgrades at the interconnection point are required to accommodate the project on the distribution system, that project will be obligated to pay for those upgrades. This modification would place the Existing Animal Waste Interconnection Requests in front of the study queue and in front of other pending requests but not in front of an interconnection request that either (a) is in the System Impact Study process and being studied, or (b) has already received a System Impact Study report and is continuing to proceed through the interconnection process. Following placement at the next available position in the Study Process, the Existing Animal Waste Interconnection Requests would proceed in accordance with the NC Interconnection Standard.”