California Regulators Update Renewable Energy Interconnection Rules

As reported by UtilityDIVE, California has approved an update to its distributed resource interconnection rules. The updated rules are expected to provide developers with more certainty about cost of bringing projects online, while spurring utilities to develop standardized cost lists for some upgrades.

Under the updated rules, utilities would provide DER developers with a cost estimate to connect new resources, with the developers’ responsibility capped at 125% of that estimate. In addition, utilities will be required to publish cost guidelines to show standard prices for typical interconnection upgrades, in order to give customers better ability to predict costs associated with a project.

Last week the California Public Utilities Commission inked changes to Electric Tariff Rule 21. This was passed by the state in 2000 in order to govern the interconnection of distributed resources.

“Today’s decision grants joint motions improving Electric Tariff Rule 21 to: provide earlier and more reliable interconnection cost information to electric generation developers and set forth the process for analyzing requests for interconnection of electricity storage devices. These motions are the result of an exemplary collaborative process among the parties, all of whom are to be commended for their tireless work. Today’s decision also grants a cost envelope pilot policy for interconnection cost certainty.”

Under new rules, developers of distributed projects will see their responsibility for interconnection upgrades capped at 125% of the utility’s estimated cost. This measure is expected to add certainty to a project’s bottom line.

Writing for UtilityDIVE, Robert Walton succinctly assessed the rule: “Bringing distributed resources online has long been a challenge, in part because the interconnection process is not standardized and utility costs that exceed initial estimates for upgraded facilities were passed back to the developer. But California is continuing to modernize its grid and grid management procedures, and new rules finalized last week will help give developers a better idea of the final cost to bring resources to the distribution system.”:

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“By enabling developers to get this information, they can take advantage of areas on the grid where there is capacity,” Sky Stanfield, the attorney who represented the Interstate Renewable Energy Coalition in the regulatory proceedings, told Greentech Media. “That lowers costs for everybody, and it also makes the utility’s job easier.”

Regulators state the change does not violate the PURPA because it allows the utility to recover costs that exceed the 125% cost estimate that would be presumed reasonable.

A statement from the Interstate Renewable Energy Coalition said the decision “further clears the path for interconnection customers and sets new next-generation best practices in place in the country’s largest clean energy market.”

May common sense and best practices for all drive this engine for all.

Image via Shutterstock


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