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DGIC Integration Insights

The Distributed Generation Integration Collaborative (DGIC) Integration Insights blog provides answers to questions posed by DGIC participants, delivers timely updates on pressing distributed energy resource integration issues, and disseminates analysis findings to inform decision-making and planning.

Emerging Practices for Energy Storage Interconnection

November 2018 by Zachary Peterson, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

Energy storage deployment has grown significantly over the past few years, gaining a foothold in the electric power sector. This blog post discusses several of the factors utilities must consider about a storage system’s impact on the grid and the emerging approaches for accounting for these factors in interconnection standards and review processes. Continue reading.

Alternative Methods for Interconnection Cost Allocation

August 2018 by Zachary Peterson, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

Utilities in California, Hawaii, and New York are testing innovative cost allocation schemes to fairly divide distribution grid upgrade costs triggered by new distributed energy resource projects. This blog post takes a look at the state-level updates to existing requirements in New York. It also examines two ongoing pilots of novel cost allocations. Continue reading.

Mitigating Impacts of High DPV Penetrations – Insights from Australia

August 2018 by Zachary Peterson, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

Few areas in the world have seen as pronounced distributed photovoltaic growth in the past decade as Queensland, Australia. The electric utility Energy Queensland has been a pioneer in seeking innovative, low-cost solutions for addressing the power quality issues on distribution networks that result from high penetrations of distributed PV. This case study explores the strategies the utility has employed to mitigate the impacts of high penetrations of distributed PV. Continue reading.

Collaborative Approaches for Solving 21st Century Grid Challenges

November 2017 by Zachary Peterson and Emerson Reiter, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

The development of distributed energy resources (DERs) and behind-the-meter energy services has introduced a number of questions and concerns in the electric power sector. Regulators and utilities must grapple with how to balance these technological advancements with concerns for reliability, safety, and other factors. Effectively addressing these challenges is generally difficult and often requires technical expertise and input from a variety of stakeholders. Regulators in several states are taking unique and collaborative approaches to study the complexities presented by these developing technologies. Continue reading.

Improving Interconnection Processes with Online Application Processing Systems

October 2017 by Zachary Peterson and Emerson Reiter, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

Distributed solar photovoltaics (DPV) have seen substantial growth over the past few years and are poised to become a significant part of the future generation mix in the United States. As many electric utilities have already discovered, robust interconnection processes are key to the rapid integration of this growing resource. Continue reading.

The State of Pre-Application Reports

June 2017 by Zachary Peterson, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

In response to the rising penetration of distributed energy resources (DERs), regulators, utilities, and industry groups across the country have collaborated to pursue opportunities for improving DER interconnection processes. Some state regulators have sought the use of pre-application reports to improve interconnection data availability and application processing. Continue reading.

Utility-Owned Rooftop Solar

March 2016 by Kristen Ardani, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

These leaders are pioneering utility-owned rooftop solar programs to broaden the reach of solar PV installations while navigating grid stability issues and supporting wide-scale system reliability through expanded voltage and frequency ride-through settings. Continue reading.

Cost and Certainty in the Interconnection Process

July 2015 by Ryan Edge, Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA)

What is the need for cost certainty? As the distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) industry has grown, interconnection costs have become a major obstacle for certain kinds of solar projects. Specifically projects that are too large to be net metered and may require a site study to ensure that adequate distribution capacity exists. Depending on when and where such projects apply for an interconnection agreement — and whether grid upgrades are needed — the costs of approval can range from a few thousand to a few million dollars. Continue reading.

Interconnection Blues: How Uncertainties in the Solar Interconnection Process Can Get You Down

July 2015 by Travis Lowder, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

It is no secret to those in the PV project development business that interconnection to the utility grid is often one of the most challenging aspects of the PV deployment cycle. Delays in the process of "plugging into the grid" are common in most PV markets, and they can strain project timelines, strand assets, stress debt service, and ultimately drive up the cost of solar energy. Continue reading.

Interconnection Performance Reporting: Massachusetts Leads the Way (for Now)

March 2015 by Emerson Reiter and Kristen Ardani, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

Distributed generation (DG) systems are being connected to the U.S. electrical grid at an unprecedented rate. Much of this activity is occurring in the solar sector; GTM Research reports that 49,000 distributed solar installations were completed in Q3 2014 alone, bringing the total number of installations to 577,000 nationwide. The most active state in the country in Q3 2014, California, saw an average of 75 new systems interconnected to the grid each day. Continue reading.

How Long Does it (Really) Take to Go Solar

February 2015 by Kristen Ardani, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

How much time does it take, on average, for a small-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) project to go from permit to "plugged in"?

  1. Less than one week
  2. 28 business days
  3. 63 business days
  4. More than six months.

Given the wide variation that exists in the market, all of these answers could be valid. However, the best answer is C, according to an analysis recently completed by researchers from NREL's Integrated Applications Center and Energy Analysis Group. Continue reading.