The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved a rule that will expedite and reduce the cost of solar project interconnections, while maintaining the reliability and safety of the electric grid. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the new rule will help to spur new solar deployment nationwide. The rule was approved by a 4-0 vote with Chairman Wellinghoff abstaining because of a possible conflict of interest.
In 2005, FERC issued Order No. 2006, which for the first time established national interconnection procedures applicable to generation projects that are 20MW or less in size and subject to FERC’s wholesale jurisdiction. Order No. 2006 was groundbreaking, and the procedures were voluntarily adopted by many states to apply to the retail interconnection process. However, demand for solar energy has grown dramatically since the original order was issued more than seven years ago, and certain aspects of the order have resulted in needless barriers to cost-effective and timely interconnections.
The rule approved today will allow solar projects that meet certain technical requirements to qualify for a “fast track” interconnection process, thus eliminating the need for costly and time-consuming studies. Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA, said the decision will help to reduce interconnection bottlenecks.
In statement released by the SEIA, Rhone commented: “We applaud FERC for recognizing the challenges facing wholesale distributed generation development, which is one of the fastest-growing segments of America’s solar energy industry. At the same time, the new rule maintains electric system safety and reliability. On behalf of our industry and its 120,000 workers, we sincerely appreciate FERC’s willingness to revisit this issue and update its rule. We look forward to working with FERC and all other interested stakeholders in the future to help further the deployment of clean, reliable and affordable solar energy nationwide."
"By the end of this year, we expect to have 13 GW of cumulative solar electric capacity installed in the U.S. – enough to power more than 2 million American homes. SEIA urges state regulators to consider using FERC’s new rule as a model and starting point for updating their own interconnection rules,” Rhone added.
In a blog post on SEIA’s website, Rhone wrote: “This is the way government should work. We deeply appreciate FERC’s open-minded approach and willingness to revisit this issue based on unforeseen developments.”
There's even more good solar news from FERC. According to the commission's recently released Energy Infrastructure Report, an astonishing 99.3% of all new and expanded electric generation capacity placed in service during October came from renewables, with solar leading the way.
New Generation In-Service (New Build and Expansion)