Posted by: jbarnesca | October 10, 2010

SCE WDAT Changes AND CAISO SGIP/LGIP Final Proposal

During the late spring and summertime,  MAJOR changes in the CAISO interconnection procedures for both <20MW solar farms and  larger solar farms have been developed and discussed by CAISO and some “stakeholders”.  This is in specific reference to a now expected final decision to collapse the prior SGIP and LGIP procedures into a combined process, and tie all of the projects in the region of the applications into a “cluster application” and approval process.   This EXPECTED final draft can be found in the link here.  Approval by all parties including FERC is now expected at the end of the year.

So it was also anticipated that the WDAT interconnection rules for connection onto the distribution lines of SCE/PG&E/SDG&E might adjust toward that edict for CAISO controlled transmission line connections.

As of October 7th we see that SCE is jumping in with their proposals and a formal start of evaluation for reforms on the WDAT application.  Their first public meeting on this topic is scheduled for October 18th in the LA area.  In their document announcing the start of a change they state these facts:

“As of the date of this document, SCE was actively processing over 310 interconnection requests from generators 20 MW and below, with over 270 of these proposing to interconnect to SCE’s distribution system.

  • The large volume of interconnection requests has exceeded SCE’s ability to conduct interconnection studies under a one-at-a-time, serial study process that is consistent with the existing WDAT timeframes.
  • …the only way to appropriately evaluate the collective impacts on SGIP requests is to wait for the clustered LGIP studies to be completed. “

So what does this mean?

The CAISO application process will very quickly turn into a complicated “cluster evaluation” for solar PV, even the <20MW projects that used to be in the less difficult SGIP process.

The three Utilities, SCE,PG&E, and SDG&E, will also then fall in line to modify their WDAT  interconnection application procedures to put these previously SGIP applications into a new “cluster” process.

Small Concession Possibly

Both the CAISO proposal and a hint from the SCE documentation may allow a simpler “fast track” interconnection approval for solar farms in the <5MW level, as opposed to the prior 2MW level.  In addition there could be a process that would actually be “passable” and not always trigger a “non pass” at the does it create a facilities upgrade step?

What happens next in these proceedings must be watched  very carefully in the next few months.  Furthermore, other possibilities for your solar farm to be in an area without other cluster studies underway and therefore outside a cluster application restriction must be considered.

With every passing month it becomes more apparent that considerable skill will be needed to complete an interconnection application with the California utilities to enable your solar farm to be built within a reasonable time period.  This is a distinctive competency to undersand these fast moving changes.

In a subsequent post I will try to comment more on these details of the present CAISO SGIP/LGIP collapsed interconnection process and rules.

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