Duke: We’re moving as fast as possible on numerous interconnection requests

Duke Energy Carolinas LLC (DEC) told the North Carolina Utilities Commission in a Dec. 9 brief that a complaint filed by Salisbury Solar LLC and Bear Poplar Solar LLC on Oct. 31 over interconnection issues fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and should be dismissed.

Wrote DEC: “Contrary to the allegations in the Complaint, DEC has made reasonable efforts to process and study these Interconnection Requests as part of the DEC’s and Duke Energy Progress, LLC’s (‘DEP’ and together with DEC, ‘the Companies’) significant ongoing efforts to manage the approximately 5,000 megawatts (‘MWs’) of proposed generator Interconnection Requests in the Companies’ North Carolina interconnection queues. Further, as set forth in detail below, DEC has made good faith efforts to resolve Complainants’ alleged disputes, including communicating the queue status of the Complainants’ Interconnection Requests in a reasonable and timely manner.

“In response to Complainants’ noticed disputes alleging failure to meet the timeframes to complete System Impact Study, DEC informed Complainants in writing on June 9, 2016, and July 15, 2016, respectively, that these projects are proceeding through System Impact Study in ‘Queue Priority Order’ pursuant to the North Carolina Utilities Commission (‘Commission’)-approved North Carolina Interconnection Procedures (‘NCIP’).”

DEC said it has continued to process and study complainants’ Interconnection Requests like all other generator Interconnection Requests. It added: “Complainants’ repeated demands for DEC to immediately produce System Impact Study results also fails to recognize that dozens of other projects are ahead of them in the interconnection queue and in the study process and that the Companies are making reasonable efforts in light of the unique and challenging interconnection landscape that continues to exist in North Carolina.

“The May 2015 revisions to the NCIP, which were approved by the Commission with support from the Companies and a significant number of solar developers as well as the Public Staff, were intended to promote efficiency and clear the clogged interconnection queue by providing an incentive for developers to withdraw projects they do not intend to pursue. However, new Interconnection Requests have not declined, as anticipated, but instead have actually increased slightly in 2016.

“In response to this ongoing challenge, DEC and DEP have increased project management, study engineering, construction, and technological resources assigned to the complex task of managing the hundreds of proposed utility-scale solar generators in the DEC and DEP North Carolina interconnection queues. Similar to the 2014-2015 period preceding the NCIP revisions, the significant volume of new Interconnection Requests in 2016 continues to challenge DEC’s and DEP’s ability to process and study new Interconnection Requests.

“Further, while Complainants’ interest is in moving forward with its proposed projects with as little scrutiny, and as much haste, as possible to suit its financial objectives, DEC must manage the System Impact Study process in a deliberate and non-discriminatory manner to ensure that system safety, reliability of service, and power quality are maintained as increasing levels of variable and intermittent utility-scale solar generators request to interconnect to the system. Consistent with good utility practice, DEP and DEC are developing and implementing additional System Impact Study criteria, including the circuit stiffness review (‘CSR’) to meet these objectives. Indeed, the Commission has already held that the Companies are ‘taking appropriate steps to ensure that electric service to retail customers is not degraded due to the operations of interconnected generating facilities.’

“While DEP and DEC consider these additional System Impact Study criteria to be necessary and consistent with good utility practice, recent experience shows that additional time is required to implement the new study criteria, educate and address Interconnection Customers’ concerns, as well as work with Interconnection Customers to evaluate reasonable and appropriate mitigation options. Complainants’ unrealistic expectations and incomplete understanding of the NCIP are not a sufficient legitimate basis for any of the relief it requests, much less the imposition of sanctions against DEC.”

Salisbury Solar and Bear Poplar Solar are both wholly-owned subsidiaries of O2 EMC LLC.The complainants are self-certified as Qualifying Facilities (QFs) under the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA).

  • In September 2015, Salisbury Solar paid to DEC the required $300 fee for the Pre-Application Report and requested the Pre-Application Report. That same month, DEC provided a Pre-Application Report that described a substation having a capacity of 20 megavolt amperes (MVA) and a peak load of 23 MW. Presently there are 0.1 MW of QFs connected to the substation and 0 MW in the interconnection queue in front of Salisbury Solar, said the Oct. 31 complaint.
  • Bear Poplar Solar paid to DEC the required $300 fee for the Pre-Application Report and requested the Pre-Application Report. On Feb. 26,, 2016, DEC provided a Pre-Application Report that described a substation having a capacity of 12 MVA and a peak load of 20 MW. Presently there are 2 MW of QFs connected to the substation and 6 MW in the interconnection queue in front of Bear Poplar Solar.

A complainant contact is: Adam Will Foodman, Chief Operating Officer, O2 EMC LLC and 02 Energies Inc., 20035 Jetton Road, Suite D, P.O. Box 1395, Cornelius, NC 28031, telephone (704) 651-4479, adam@O2ernc.com.

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.