The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) released its nationally applicable IREC Model Interconnection Procedures, 2019 Edition, last week. The model procedures reflect the latest evolution in best practices to facilitate higher penetrations of distributed energy resources (DERs) on the grid, integrating new technologies while maintaining grid safety and reliability.
The components of the procedures are intended to streamline a more efficient and cost-effective project development process, which saves money and time for consumers, developers and utilities alike. (A distributed energy resource — i.e., solar panels and energy storage — serves the energy needs of homes, businesses and communities at or near where that energy is used.)
2019 Model Procedures important updates
Interconnection of Energy Storage Systems: An initial framework for review of energy storage systems seeking to interconnect to the distribution grid. An evolving space, the guidance is intended to begin to address the uniquely flexible and controllable nature of energy storage.
Requirements for Publishing a Public Queue and Reporting: To ensure key data is publicly available, so all stakeholders have fair access to information about how the interconnection process is proceeding, to inform decision making.
Updated Dispute Resolution Process: Creation of an interconnection ombudsperson role to provide for a neutral third party to help resolve and mitigate interconnection disputes more efficiently. A fair and efficient dispute resolution process can help address interconnection challenges, while avoiding the need for more time-intensive complaints before utility commissions.
Clarification to the Material Modifications Provisions: Specifically addressing the need to clarify what level of change requires a resubmittal of the interconnection application, for both existing interconnected projects and projects in the queue.
“As states recognize the need to keep their interconnection procedures current, we encourage them to emulate the best practices outlined in the 2019 update of IREC’s Model Interconnection Procedures,” adds IREC President/CEO Larry Sherwood. “The model procedures are a tool to save commissions time and resources, and also serve as a foundation upon which to build strong clean energy markets and achieve energy policy goals.”
Initially developed in 2005 and updated in 2009 and 2013, IREC’s Model Interconnection Procedures help guide state utility regulators, energy industry professionals, utilities, policymakers and other energy DER stakeholders as they develop and/or refine the rules for grid access, known as interconnection.
The model procedures are informed by IREC’s intervention in dozens of state interconnection rulemakings over the past three decades and participation in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) process to develop and update the Small Generator Interconnection Procedures (SGIP).
— Solar Builder magazine