Interconnection standards govern the processes by which distributed clean energy projects physically connect to the utility grid – they specify the technical requirements, timeframe, fees and process for connecting renewable energy systems to the utility grid.
State interconnection procedures are a critical component of a state’s policy toolkit. Whether for a residential rooftop solar PV project, a small wind turbine at a school or a community-owned shared solar project, interconnection standards impact all clean energy projects.
Strong interconnection standards can provide predictable, streamlined, expedited, and cost-effective processes both for all involved parties: the end-user energy consumer, the developer, and the utility. For utilities with higher volumes of interconnection requests, good standards can help them manage the processes effectively and efficiently, while still maintaining grid reliability and safety. Inadequate or poor standards, on the other hand, can lead to costly delays and unnecessary fees and requirements that ultimately impact the economic viability of projects, as well as the consumer experience and investor confidence.
As costs of renewable energy come down and more systems seek to connect to the grid, interconnection procedures developed over the last decade are increasingly under strain. They simply weren’t developed to handle the number of applications now received by grid operators. Furthermore, outdated standards are now bumping into rapidly evolving technologies (such as distributed energy storage and smart inverters) and preventing their efficient and cost-effective adoption, and thus delaying the ability of consumers and utilities to reap their benefits.
As states and utilities grapple with unprecedented demand for clean energy interconnections, IREC’s leadership and involvement on this pillar clean energy policy is helping to shape positive outcomes.