SPP gets nod from FERC on reformed procedures

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has granted conditional approval to the reformed interconnection procedures of the Southwest Power Pool (SPP).

The SPP anticipates that the reformed procedures would help it process the 255 or so pending interconnection requests covering 57,000 megawatts (MW) of power generation. The SPP would be the third independent system operator to reform its interconnection process. The independent transmission system operators for California and the Midwest reformed their interconnection processes in 2008.

The SPP intends to replace its current interconnection queue with three different queues, each of which would have different conditions and deposits.

The three queues are the Interconnection Feasibility Study (IFS), the Preliminary Interconnection System Impact Study (PISIS), and the Definitive Interconnection System Impact Study (DISIS). The DISIS is compulsory, while the PISIS and IFS are optional. An interconnection customer (IC) could begin with DISIS if requisite conditions are met. Groups of ICs in a queue would be formed in clusters, depending on electrical and geographic relatedness, and each would be evaluated through cluster studies. Electrically remote generators, however, would be studied on an individual basis.

In order to initiate the process for interconnection request, an IC has to submit a complete request that includes a completed request form, proof of site control, and a deposit of $10,000. The SPP requires wind generators to demonstrate sufficient site control with the availability of 30 acres per MW, although this condition can be modified depending on the specific turbine layout. An IC entering DISIS or PISIS must demonstrate site control in the form of specific real estate rights, but cannot get by with a deposit in place of site control. Inability to complete any of the requirements would require the IC to withdraw its request, although the IC would be provided with sufficient time to satisfy all three conditions and modify its request.

In order to enter the DISIS queue, the IC must satisfy the following conditions:

• Demonstrate site adequacy and site control;

• Depending on the generator size, deposit an additional deposit ranging from $75,000 to $150,000;

• Provide a fixed point of interconnection and the plant size;

• Satisfy one of seven "readiness milestones," such as furnishing proof of execution of a power purchase agreement, or show that the generator is a "designated resource" or part of a State Resource Plan.

The IFS queue provides an IC with the necessary information that determines whether an interconnection is operationally and economically feasible. The IC must make an additional deposit of $10,000 to fund the cluster feasibility study, which would be conducted over a 90-day period. Cluster studies are not repeated by the SPP; upon receiving results of the study, the IC must proceed to either DISIS or PISIS, or withdraw altogether if the SPP study results do not consider the interconnection feasible.

Conditions for entering PISIS are similar to those required for entering DISIS, but the additional deposit varies from $40,000 to $90,000. Also, the IC must provide a line diagram and generator step-up transformer data, and related technical data if wind generators are involved. The SPP will conduct a system impact study over a 180-day period, after which the IC will get a single opportunity to lower the plant size if necessary or adjust the interconnection point before entering the DISIS. A higher plant size would mean a new IC request.

Participating ICs will pay cluster study costs in pre-defined ratios. Before the reforms were implemented, the SPP offered a 180-day facilities study, but that offer is no longer valid. A restudy will be conducted if a higher or equally queued project withdraws or is modified. Withdrawing from the DISIS while a study is in progress will prove costly for the IC, which will have to pay twice the costs allocated for the study. Suspension or withdrawal during or after the facilities study will cost the IC not only the actual costs incurred but also the costs required to restudy an IC that has withdrawn or suspended the procedure. The IC can only suspend construction of a project for which it is solely responsible for costs. The SPP will refund any unused portion of the deposit made by an IC in case of suspension or withdrawal.

The reformed interconnection procedures will be applicable to all ICs that did not have an executed facilities agreement as of August 1. Such ICs must decide on a queue, make the appropriate deposits, and meet all applicable conditions by September 30. ICs that executed a facilities study agreement before August 1 must abide by only the new suspension procedures. The reformed procedures will not be applicable to ICs that executed interconnection agreements as of June 2.


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