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An insider's tale of interconnection policy for renewable energy projects

Getting connected to the utility grid is one of the biggest hurdles to the development of more distributed renewable energy resources. I would know since I’ve been working on interconnection policy and have also been managing interconnection applications for various clients for the last fifteen years in California.

In short: the interconnection process is still very expensive and still takes way too long for many projects if they don’t qualify for the expedited process available for net-metered projects.

I was the lead author on a report on behalf of my long-time client, the Green Power Institute (GPI), along with Sahm White, then with the Clean Coalition, that identified a number of streamlining and automation options for dramatically improving the interconnection process in California. This report was completed as part of the working group process in the longstanding interconnection proceeding (R.17-07-007) at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), and is attached as an appendix to the working group’s final report (starting at page 90).

One of our recommendations during the working group process was to expand the use of template (standardized) single line diagrams (SLDs) for the interconnection process. SLDs are created by engineers as part of the interconnection process. They show the utility the electrical configuration of the proposed system and allow for the engineering and safety review by the utility. By allowing applicants to use template SLDs, both the cost of the application process and the time required for utility review can be reduced dramatically.


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