On Wednesday, Might 25, the Illinois Commerce Fee (ICC) made a number of modifications to the state’s guidelines governing how distributed power assets (DERs), comparable to rooftop photo voltaic panels and power storage programs, hook up with the state’s electrical distribution grid. The revisions to Illinois’ interconnection guidelines embody a lot of optimistic developments that can streamline the interconnection course of and scale back the time and value to attach clear power to the grid. They can even make it simpler to make the most of power storage and supply elevated transparency about interconnection evaluate outcomes.
The modifications mirror present greatest practices established by a collaborative analysis and coverage mission by utilities and clear power advocates that resulted in a toolkit of solutions for bettering the interconnection of power storage initiatives (“the BATRIES Toolkit”). As one of many first states to include these power storage interconnection greatest practices, Illinois continues its function as a frontrunner in local weather change options. These modifications construct upon the landmark Local weather and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) Illinois handed final 12 months, one of many nation’s most complete state local weather and power legal guidelines.
“These interconnection governance modifications are mandatory for the way forward for our power grid and set the stage for groundbreaking packages promised by CEJA,” stated Will Kenworthy, regulatory director at Vote Photo voltaic. “The ICC’s modifications allow the renewable power initiatives from CEJA to simply combine into the grid and supply clear, dependable power for all.”
These enhancements resulted from the engagement of a number of public curiosity teams together with the Interstate Renewable Power Council (IREC), the Environmental Regulation and Coverage Middle (ELPC), Vote Photo voltaic, and NRDC (Pure Assets Protection Council).
“These cutting-edge updates to the interconnection course of in Illinois will make it attainable so as to add extra renewable power to the state’s grid and supply a mannequin for different states that need to paved the way to a clear power future,” stated IREC regulatory VP Radina Valova.
One of many key modifications establishes protocols for using a few of the distinctive traits of power storage that can make it attainable for the state’s grid to accommodate larger ranges of renewable power. That’s as a result of, when paired with power storage, DER initiatives can restrict the quantity of power they ship onto the grid (“non-export” and “limited-export” initiatives). The quantity of electrical energy a mission will ship to the grid is a key think about whether or not it could interconnect with out the necessity for prolonged research or pricey gear upgrades to make sure grid security and reliability. Tasks that export much less or no electrical energy to the grid are much less more likely to trigger points.
As a result of power storage is a more recent expertise, most interconnection guidelines don’t but acknowledge the opportunity of limiting export or have pointers for dealing with such initiatives. The revised Illinois interconnection guidelines now acknowledge limited- and non-export initiatives and set up completely different evaluate approaches that mirror a mission’s restricted export quantity, the place acceptable, when assessing potential grid impacts.
There are a number of different noteworthy developments within the revised interconnection guidelines, together with:
- Enhancements to the way in which initiatives are “screened” for potential grid impacts, which can lead to fewer initiatives being required to undergo time-consuming and dear research processes earlier than being accepted to interconnect.
- Necessities for utilities to supply higher info transparency to interconnection candidates, together with particulars on grid constraints that forestall their initiatives from continuing as designed, and extra detailed value and timeline estimates.
- A brand new pathway for builders to switch their pending DER initiatives in response to info on grid constraints, permitting them to enhance their probability of approval with out having to withdraw and reapply, as has traditionally been the case.
All of those modifications are anticipated to permit extra initiatives to efficiently interconnect and to extend the tempo at which renewable power could be added to Illinois’ distribution grid.
“This may put extra renewable energy on the grid sooner and cheaper, whereas nonetheless sustaining security and reliability,” stated Environmental Regulation & Coverage Middle Workers Legal professional Erica S. McConnell. “The folks of Illinois need clear energy. We would like it for our local weather, for our public well being and as a approach to take management of our power payments. These guidelines will make that occur extra shortly, effectively and safely.”
Whereas a wonderful place to begin, one space the place the modifications fell wanting public curiosity teams’ suggestions is in regard to knowledge reporting necessities for the state’s utilities. The Fee declined to require extra detailed reporting necessities that will assist the Fee and stakeholders make sure the interconnection course of is functioning properly and that utilities are delivering on their required obligations. Lack of knowledge on utility efficiency metrics within the interconnection course of is a standard downside that forestalls accountability and enhancements.
Information merchandise from IREC