Image credit: California ISO Folsom

The California Independent System Operator (ISO) Board of Governors has approved policy changes aimed at clearing the path for generation and storage projects as they move through the electric grid interconnection process.

These enhancements will ultimately help California meet public policy goals in the midst of a quickly changing energy environment. With 288 active generation and storage projects currently in its interconnection queue, the ISO developed policy changes are designed to smooth the process for getting projects online.

The enhancements are the culmination of a yearlong stakeholder initiative process, and are intended to improve efficiency, transparency, and financial risk-sharing of the interconnection process.

In an effort to better serve transmission owners and interconnection customers, the board approved actions in three areas:

Network upgrade definitions and cost responsibility – this enhancement would add definitions to the ISO tariff to clarify which network upgrades impact interconnection costs, and how the costs are calculated. The tariff changes would make clear the method of figuring costs and assigning financial responsibility, and give terms strict definitions, to avoid ambiguity and customer confusion.

Minimum acceptance criteria for interconnection requests – this will establish specific parameters for what must be included in an interconnection request by the close of the application window, which will prevent time delays due to missing information.

Validation procedures for interconnection requests – this change would extend the interconnection validation period and allow flexibility in meeting deadlines. Currently, transmission owners and the ISO have found meeting the validation timelines challenging, because of a higher volume of requests, the increased complexity of power plants, as well as the multiple reliability requirements to meet.

If approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the new network upgrade definitions and clarifications on cost responsibility are expected to take effect this summer. The minimum acceptance criteria and validation procedures for interconnection requests are expected to take effect in April.