This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

August 06, 2003

FERC Sets New Rules for Connecting Generators to the Grid

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) set new standards for connecting electrical generators to the power grid in late July. Although the new standards apply to generators larger than 20 megawatts in capacity, FERC also proposed expedited grid-connection procedures for smaller generators, which would include small- to medium-sized wind projects, solar power systems, microturbines, fuel cells, and other small generators. Both rules include standard "interconnection" procedures and standard agreements to be signed by the utility and the generator. See the FERC press release (PDF 19 KB). Download Acrobat Reader.

A top issue for the owners of large generators is who must pay the cost of any upgrades needed for the utility's system to accommodate the power being fed into it by the generator. The FERC rule says the generator owner will pay for any upgrades in the high-voltage transmission system, but the utility will pay the owner back over the following five years. The generator owner, however, must pay the full cost of any upgrades to the low-voltage distribution system. The rule will take effect in late September. See the FERC fact sheet (PDF 61 KB) or go directly to the full FERC order (PDF 798 KB).

For generators of 20 megawatt or less in capacity, FERC divides them into three categories. For connecting a generator of 2 megawatts or less in capacity to a distribution system, using pre-certified equipment, FERC proposes "super-expedited" procedures that avoid any costly studies. Generators between 2 and 10 megawatts in capacity connected to a distribution system face more complicated procedures, but would often be able to avoid costly studies as well. Systems larger than 10 megawatts in capacity or connected to the high-voltage transmission system would likely require impact studies as part of the process. Comments on the proposed rule are due by early September. See the FERC fact sheet (PDF 60 KB) or go directly to the full FERC order (PDF 341 KB).