US regulators are set to vote on Thursday to expedite the integration of new energy projects into the electric grid, potentially reducing the mounting backlog of requests from renewable energy developers and providing consumers with greater access to green energy.
In some markets, lengthy waits for transmission interconnection have impeded efforts to stabilize volatile pricing and address tight power supplies. This delay has also hindered the implementation of large-scale solar and wind projects, which are vital to the Biden administration’s climate change mitigation strategy.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is slated to present its proposed enhancements for the grid interconnection process during its monthly meeting. This move comes almost a year after the enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), landmark legislation aimed at promoting renewable energy ventures.
FERC Chairman Willie Phillips noted in May that part of the solution could involve transitioning from a “first come, first serve” to a “first ready” approach. This means prioritizing projects that have secured land rights and permits, allowing them to proceed without waiting behind less prepared developers.
Presently, new renewable generators and battery storage resources undergo a complex and costly process, including multiple grid impact studies, before they can connect to the system.
According to an analysis by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in April, the average interconnection process now takes five years, more than double the time it took in 2008. However, the passage of the IRA last year has prompted substantial investments in new renewable energy projects.
The proposal for grid interconnection is just one element of a comprehensive reform package that FERC is developing in the coming months. The aim is to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy and storage. Additionally, the commission plans to finalize proposals this year to enhance planning and cost allocation for transmission lines.
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