The California Independent System Operator Corp.'s (California ISO) board of governors has approved a plan to streamline the process for studying small power projects into a new process for hooking up large generators to the grid.
California ISO is charged with studying the grid impacts of new generation projects. Developers submit requests for California ISO engineering studies as part of the initial process to advance projects, many of which are proposed for the same transmission-strapped regions of California.
Collectively, these wind, solar and geothermal resource projects produce the same impact to the grid as a single large generator. California ISO intends to take a big-picture perspective in planning for the needed transmission upgrades – taking into consideration ‘clusters’ of new generation projects, both small and large, to speed the projects through the study process as well as minimize overbuilding and undue costs associated with transmission expansion.
‘The current serial-study process was designed when we were receiving 15 or 20 interconnection requests a year,’ says Keith Casey, vice president of market-infrastructure development at California ISO. ‘That has increased to 150 small-generator projects in the past two years. We know the cluster study approach works because we're seeing the benefits in the reformed large-generator interconnection process, and we plan to apply the same concepts to address the growing backlog of small-generator projects in our interconnection study queue.’
California ISO will now seek Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval for the unified interconnection process.