California has led the nation on a key environmental issue once again.
In this case, the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) adopted key aspects of California’s new interconnection rules for small wholesale energy projects like solar and small hydro. The fast track process is a dramatically cheaper and faster interconnection process for qualifying small projects, so this change represents a major improvement with nationwide impacts.
FERC adopted a number of changes in the Small Generator Interconnection Procedures (SGIP), three of which I’ll focus on here: 1) Utilities must provide a $300 pre-application report to requesting parties, which includes important information for judging the cost and feasibility of interconnection of the site at issue; 2) Increasing the minimum project size for fast-track eligibility from 2 megawatts up to 5 megawatts; 3) Changing the 50 percent minimum load rule to 100 percent, which effectively doubles the size of projects that are eligible for the fast track.
All of these changes were first adopted by California in its interconnection reform process for the state-jurisdictional Rule 21 procedure in 2011 and 2012. I was heavily involved, as co-lead, in this reform process in California on behalf of my client, the Clean Coalition. We wrote much of the language that was adopted in the requirements for the pre-application report and also influenced many other features of these reforms in what became a lengthy settlement process.