IREC interconnection grades spotlight want for reforms to help clear energy development

By SB Staff June 21, 2023

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) launched its Freeing the Grid interconnection grades, exhibiting room for enchancment within the United States.

The grades assess every of the United States, in addition to Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico on the standard of its interconnection insurance policies. These insurance policies govern how distributed energy sources (DERs) — corresponding to solar and energy storage methods — can safely and reliably hook up with the distribution grid. Freeing the Grid is a joint initiative of IREC and Vote Solar that grades states on key insurance policies that assist to extend clear energy adoption and entry to the grid.

“The 2023 Freeing the Grid interconnection grades make clear that a majority of states have significant room for improvement in their interconnection procedures,” mentioned IREC president and CEO Larry Sherwood. “Without improvements to align with new best practices that have emerged over the last several years, state interconnection policies are likely to be a barrier to the efficient and affordable growth of DERs, holding back the pace at which clean energy and climate goals can be met.”

The grades are based mostly on 10 classes of standards reflecting key concerns to make sure interconnection insurance policies help reasonably than hinder clear energy market development. The standards embody price, effectivity, transparency and the applied sciences eligible to interconnect.

Of the 39 states and territories which have statewide interconnection procedures, just one state, New Mexico, acquired an A for its interconnection guidelines. An further 6 states (Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Michigan and New York) acquired B’s. The remaining states acquired a C grade or decrease. Another 13 states haven’t adopted statewide interconnection guidelines and acquired F grades (Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Wyoming). 

“Effective interconnection procedures are critical to ensuring accessible, affordable, and reliable clean energy for communities across the country,” mentioned Vote Solar govt director Sachu Constantine. “As these Freeing the Grid interconnection grades show, states must strengthen interconnection policies to accelerate the equitable growth of solar and other distributed energy resources and harness the unprecedented benefits available through the Inflation Reduction Act.” 

Because interconnection guidelines dictate how DER initiatives are reviewed and accepted for operation on the electrical grid, they decide how effectively new clear energy sources can hook up with the grid. If they permit for a clear and expedited assessment course of and supply enough readability round timelines and different expectations, states usually tend to keep away from backlogs that may depart initiatives languishing in clogged interconnection queues and delays that may stretch for months or years. Severe interconnection delays have turn out to be an more and more frequent problem throughout the Unites States as the quantity of DER interconnection requests has grown. 

Given the significance for a state to standardize and codify interconnection practices, IREC’s state interconnection grades are based mostly solely onpolicies and practices explicitly included or referenced in a state’s interconnection guidelines, and due to this fact relevant to all jurisdictional utilities. This offers larger transparency into the method for each utilities and interconnection prospects, ensures that interconnection candidates have a course of that may be referenced if disputes come up, and finally offers utility accountability for any course of delays.

The grades don’t replicate interconnection provisions included in non-statewide interconnection guidelines, corresponding to public utility fee orders that haven’t been formally adopted within the guidelines or particular person utility technical paperwork. There are some cases during which the on-the-ground implementation of a state’s interconnection guidelines differs from what’s required in a state’s interconnection guidelines, which isn’t mirrored within the grades. 

The state grades included in Freeing the Grid are supposed to help policymakers and different stakeholders with figuring out coverage greatest practices for enabling the speedy development of DERs. They additionally present a foundation for states to benchmark their present insurance policies towards these adopted in different states. While this launch focuses on interconnection grades, future Freeing the Grid updates will cowl different essential insurance policies to extend clear energy adoption and entry, together with web metering and different DER compensation insurance policies. 

To discover the Freeing the Grid interconnection grades, go to Interested stakeholders may also register for a free webinar at 1 p.m. ET on July 12. The webinar will present an summary of the Freeing the Grid interconnection scoring standards and methodology; key takeaways from the 2023 interconnection grades; and a dialogue of how states can enhance their interconnection guidelines. 

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Tags: interconnection, IREC, utility-scale, Vote Solar

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