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FERC approves MISO plan to allow shared interconnection facilities

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved a plan by the Midcontinent ISO to allow interconnection customers to share interconnection facilities among their generating projects.

The change is significant because it could save money and time for generators at a time when MISO's interconnection queue is rapidly growing.

Historically, MISO did not allow customers to share the facilities that interconnect projects to the grid. But in the past several years, interconnection customers have been increasingly interested in sharing these facilities, the grid operator said.

This trend is due to growing queue sizes, increased use of the transmission system and the tendency of generation projects to cluster in areas with favorable geography and access to the transmission grid, MISO said.

In June, MISO proposed to change its rules to allow an interconnection customer to submit an interconnection request that proposes to share interconnection facilities with one or more existing projects or pending interconnection requests.

The customer must include a consent agreement outlining how the generators will divvy up ownership, maintenance and operation of the shared facilities, MISO said. Such agreements will help avoid misunderstandings, canceled projects, restudies, queue delays and cost shifts, MISO said.

MISO also outlined other changes to accommodate the plan as well as a transition mechanism so the new approach will be available to customers whose interconnection requests already have begun the planning process.

Taken together, the proposal "provides interconnection customers with flexibility to develop voluntary arrangements that can lower overall development cost, reduce development time, and/or maximize the efficient use of their points of interconnection in heavily subscribed or space-constrained areas within the MISO region," the grid operator said.

FERC on Aug. 13 accepted the proposal, effective the following day. In doing so, the commission found the plan will ensure that MISO's approval or rejection of a shared interconnection facilities request is applied in a fair manner.

The new approach could help speed projects in MISO's growing interconnection queue, which has 100 GW of interconnection requests. The volume of solar interconnection requests has ramped up in recent years, according to an Aug. 14 MISO presentation to its planning advisory committee.

In 2017, MISO received 32 GW of interconnection requests, including 12 GW of solar and 12.3 GW of wind, the presentation said. In 2018, the grid operator received 40.7 GW of requests, including 22.3 GW of solar and 14.7 GW of wind. And in 2019, MISO received 44.5 GW of requests, including 28.2 GW of solar and 5.6 GW of wind.

That trend toward more solar interconnection requests is due to the fact that MISO has exponentially more wind than solar power, said Matthew Cordaro, a former president and CEO of MISO. "Given this, it is not surprising there is much more solar in the pipeline," Cordaro said. (FERC docket ER19-2149)

Kate Winston is a reporter for S&P Global Platts. S&P Global Platts and S&P Global Market Intelligence are owned by S&P Global Inc.