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FERC to hold conference on need to reform interconnection procedures

Signalingthat it is taking seriously the American Wind Energy Association's claims thatits more than 12-year-old rules for the interconnection of new generationprojects need to be reformed, FERC has announced it will hold a technicalconference on the issue.

Thecommission last undertook a comprehensive revamp of its large generatorinterconnection procedures in July 2003 when it issued Order 2003. The ruleamended Order 888's pro forma tariff by requiring transmission providers to offernondiscriminatory, standardized interconnection service pursuant to a standardagreement for the interconnection of generators larger than 20 MW.

InJune 2015, AWEA insisted that the time has come to revise those procedures,considering the many changes that the industry has undergone in the interveningyears. The trade group specifically complained that the current proceduresoften result in complex, time consuming technical disputes aboutinterconnection feasibility, cost and cost responsibility. Given that the wholeinterconnection process can drag on for years and is filled with uncertainties,AWEA said it is undermining the ability of new generators to compete.

AWEAtherefore urged FERC to initiate a rulemaking, and detailed a series ofsuggested reforms designed to improve the timeliness, accuracy, uniformity andtransparency of the interconnection process. AWEA also encouraged FERC toevaluate the diversity in interconnection rules now in effect and require morewidespread use of best practices adopted in various regions.

Manyindustry interests opposedAWEA's request, however, contending that the current procedures are workingwell. Moreover, the Edison Electric Institute and others maintained that insteadof FERC mandating generic reforms such as those recommended by AWEA,interconnection rules should be dealt with on a regional level.

Nevertheless,certain interests saw some promise in AWEA's suggested reforms but urged thecommission to proceed carefully, suggesting that FERC hold a technicalconference before launching a rulemaking proceeding.

FERChas now agreed to do just that, announcing that the staff-led technicalconference will take place May 13 at the commission's Washington, D.C.,headquarters. The notice said the conference will discuss "select issues"related to AWEA's petition, as well as "other generator interconnectionissues, including interconnection of energy storage."

Inaddition, the commission said the conference may involve issues raised in ahandful of proceedings that are currently pending before the agency. The agencywill provide more information regarding the conference program at a later time.(RM15-21, RM16-12)