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FERC Reforms Generator Interconnection Rules

At its April 19, 2018 open meeting, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued Order No. 845, a Final Rule updating and revising its pro forma large generator interconnection procedures and large generator interconnection agreement to enhance the generator interconnection process. Since FERC established its interconnection rules in 2003, the electric power industry has undergone significant changes, contributing to inefficiencies in the interconnection process. Interconnection customers and transmission providers have experienced extensive delays and backlogs in interconnection queues, as well as late-stage interconnection request withdrawals that can lead to cascading re-studies, additional delays, and withdrawals—all creating a difficult process to manage.

FERC proposes to improve certainty for interconnection customers, enhance the interconnection process, provide opportunities to bring new generation online faster, and mitigate the construction of unnecessary upgrades through alternative means of interconnection service.

Key aspects of the Final Rule include:

  • Reforms aimed at improving certainty for interconnection customers, including a requirement that transmission providers expand the option to build to allow interconnection customers to construct certain interconnection facilities and stand-alone network upgrades that would otherwise be constructed by the interconnected transmission owner;
  • Transparency reforms that require transmission providers to:
    1. outline and make public a method for determining contingent facilities;
    2. list the study processes and assumptions for forming the network models used for interconnection studies and provide modeling information to interconnection customers earlier in the interconnection process; and
    3. establish reporting requirements for aggregate interconnection study performance;
  • Flexibility and efficiency reforms that require transmission providers to:
    1. allow an interconnection customer to request a level of interconnection service that is lower than its generating facility capacity;
    2. allow for provisional interconnection agreements for a generating facility’s limited operation prior to completion of the interconnection process;
    3. create a process for the use of surplus interconnection capacity; and
    4. develop procedures to assess and study changes in an interconnection customer’s proposed technology during the interconnection process to determine if such changes would constitute a material modification.

The Final Rule does not address affected system coordination, which FERC is considering in a separate ongoing proceeding.

The Final Rule, which will become effective seventy-five (75) days after its publication in the Federal Register, directs transmission providers to submit compliance filings to FERC within ninety (90) days of such publication.