On Friday, March 30, 2012, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (the "Commission") conditionally approved a proposal from the Midwest Independent System Operator ("MISO") to change its generator interconnection queue procedures to address backlogs and late-state terminations of generation interconnection queue agreements (FERC Docket No. ER12-309-000). The new procedures are effective January 1, 2012. The reforms approved on Friday are MISO's third set of significant queue reforms since 2008 as MISO has continued to shift its procedures for processing interconnection applications from a "first-come, first-served" approach to a "first-ready, first-served" approach.
For developers, the most critical changes are the new cash-at-risk milestones required for projects to enter the Definitive Planning Phase and after execution of a Generator Interconnection Agreement ("GIA"). The purpose of these new milestones is to require interconnection customers to put more money at risk earlier in the process so that projects that advance through MISO's queue to the Definitive Planning Phase will be more likely to reach commercial operation. Other important changes include revised timelines, new study procedures, and Net Zero Interconnection Service.
A report from Stoel Rives attorney Jake Storms (Sacramento):
The California Public Utility Commission (“CPUC”) recently announced that it will reopen the Rule 21 Working Group. Rule 21 governs the interconnection of distributed generation to a utility’s distribution system.
Each of the three largest investor-owned utilities—Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric—have a version of Rule 21 in their electric tariffs, which are subject to approval by the CPUC. The last Rule 21 workshop was held in 2008. The CPUC stated that, given the substantial changes in the technical and regulatory landscape in the past several years, Rule 21 is in need of reconsideration and has set forth a list of issues it believes should be addressed by the new Working Group. These include:
• The need for transparency in processing, queue information, and customer application information
• The need for review and potential reconsideration of technical screens within Rule 21 to ensure that the appropriate issues are being studied
• The need for articulation of cost-allocation methodology when network upgrades are required
• The need for review of utility tariffs for consistency with each other and with state law
• The need for additional standard interconnection agreements to accommodate the different types of distributed generation projects anticipated to come online
The first meeting of the Rule 21 Working Group will be Friday, April 29, 2011 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Auditorium of the CPUC located at 500 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA.