Colorado regulators to investigate interconnection of DERs

The commission noted that topics to be investigated include total costs to ratepayers and the length of time for the interconnection process

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission, in a decision with a mailed date of July 12, directed its staff to complete an investigation into the interconnection of distributed energy resources (DERs) and file a report on its findings by Nov. 15.

As noted in the decision, the commission during a January meeting recognized that an investigation into interconnection practices may provide information helpful to improving the interconnection process for DERs.

“We continue to believe that an investigation is necessary, particularly given the significant amount of DER capacity likely to be proposed in ongoing and future proceedings, such as in the 2021 Electric Resource Plan (ERP) and Clean Energy Plan proposed by Public Service Company of Colorado in Proceeding No. 21A-0141E,” the commission said.

By ascertaining information about issues generation owners, developers, and installers have faced in Colorado, the commission said that it expects that it will be better suited to address those issues more proactively in related proceedings, if needed. The commission noted that it has several venues, including the Interconnection Rules and Distribution System Planning Rules, which provide opportunities to adjust rules to alleviate identified issues that are substantive and reasonably within the commission’s control.

The commission said that it is interested in obtaining anonymous comments on certain topics from entities with direct experience interconnecting to Colorado’s electric grid, such as generation owners, developers, and installers, as “anonymous responses may provide more candid answers from the entities that routinely work with regulated electric utilities to interconnect.”

In addition, the commission said that it is interested in investigating the possible use of Performance Incentive Mechanisms (PIMS) and Performance Based Regulation (PBR) to improve the interconnection process for DERs.

The commission noted that topics to be investigated include:

  • 24 months of both behind and in front of the meter solar project interconnection data from regulated electric utilities to develop a baseline of past interconnection performance success and performance issues
  • Total costs to ratepayers and the length of time for the interconnection process
  • A comparison of the interconnection of utility owned projects and non-utility owned DER projects

Among other things, the commission said that interested entities that have participated in the interconnection process in Colorado and wish to provide staff with input on any of the identified topics may email joseph.mccabe@state.co.us with the subject line “Interconnection Investigation.”

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Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 16 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.