The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released a proposed role this week on resolving “significant current backlogs” in grid interconnection queues. According to FERC, there are over 1,400 GW of energy generation and storage capacity waiting to be connected to the system.
“Projects now face an average delay of more than three years to connect to the grid,” read a FERC statement on the Notice of Proposed Rule (NOPR). “As the composition of resources is changing rapidly, the policies of the commission must keep pace. Today’s NOPR proposes reforms to ensure that interconnection customers can access the network reliably, efficiently, transparently and quickly.
The queue can include hundreds of GW in utility-scale wind and solar projects, but also more edge-of-grid projects such as distributed power and micro-grids that include renewables that can be redeployed into the main network.
The 1,400 GW of standby battery generation and storage capacity is three times the volume of the backlog from five years ago, FERC noted. Resource planners now face a delay of more than three years to get connected to the network.
All FERC commissioners agreed that this had to change.
“Today’s unanimous action responds to the urgent need to update, accelerate and streamline our processes for interconnecting new resources to the grid,” FERC Chairman Rich Glick said in a statement. . “We are seeing unprecedented demand for new resources seeking to interconnect to the transmission grid, and queuing delays are hampering customer access to new low-cost generation.”
Two years ago, a report from the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkley warned of the backlog of zero- or low-carbon energy resources online to contribute to the generation mix of the country. According to the UCB report, the 2020 interconnection queues in the United States include some 544 GW of wind, solar and stand-alone battery storage.
These resources are needed to help the national grid transition to net zero in the coming decades, supporters say.
FERC’s proposed rule would include several key reforms, including a move toward broader interconnection studies by transmission providers to examine many generating participants rather than one facility at a time.
FERC is also considering fines for transmission providers who fail to complete interconnection studies on time.
The American electricity transmission and distribution system is divided into three main networks: the East and West interconnections and the Texas network supervised by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).
Regional transmission operators include ISO-New England, Midcontinent Independent System Operator, PJM Interconnection (mid-Atlantic), Southwest Power Pool, and other system operators such as California ISO, New York ISO, and ERCOT.
(Rod Waltoneditor for Energy Tech, the sister brand of T&D World, has covered the energy sector for 14 years as both a newspaper and a specialist journalist. He can be contacted at email@example.com).