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Interconnection Standards for Small Generators

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Photovoltaics
Program Info
Program Type 
Interconnection
Provider 
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) adopted "small generator" interconnection standards for distributed energy resources up to 20 megawatts (MW) in capacity in May 2005.* The FERC's standards apply only to facilities subject to the jurisdiction of the commission; these facilities mostly include those that interconnect at the transmission level. The FERC's standards generally do not apply to distribution-level interconnection, which is regulated by state public utilities commissions. However, the FERC has noted that its interconnection standards for small generators should serve as a useful model for state-level standards.

The FERC's standards include Small Generator Interconnection Procedures (SGIP) and a Small Generator Interconnection Agreement (SGIA). The SGIP contains the technical procedures that the small generator and utility must follow in the course of connecting the generator with the utility's lines. The SGIA contains the contractual provisions for the interconnection and spells out who pays for improvements to the utility's electric system (if needed to complete the interconnection). The standards include provisions for three levels of interconnection:
* The "10-kilowatt (kW) Inverter Process," for certified, inverter-based systems no larger than 10 kW;
* The "Fast Track Process," for certified systems no larger than 2 MW; and
* The default "Study Process," for all other systems no larger than 20 MW.
The standards include technical screens for each level of interconnection. Notably, the FERC standards do not require systems to include an external disconnect switch. Utilities and customers must follow specific timelines, and guidelines for interconnection and study fees are established. Customers must obtain liability insurance "sufficient to insure against all reasonably foreseeable direct liabilities given the size and nature of the generating equipment being interconnected, the interconnection itself, and the characteristics of the system to which the interconnection is made." Additional liability insurance must be obtained "only if necessary as a function of owning and operating a generating facility."

''* The FERC adopted interconnection standards for facilities larger than 20 MW in July 2003. ([http://www.ferc.gov/legal/maj-ord-reg.asp See FERC Order Nos. 2003, 2003-A, 2003-B and 2003-C].) FERC's standards for larger generators include standard Large Generator Interconnection Procedures (LGIP) and a standard Large Generator Interconnection Agreement (LGIA).''