During 2010 all of the previous interconnection rules, procedures, fees, and timelines for completing these agreements have been massively changed for solar PV farms in California. Starting first in the spring was the CAISO collapse of separate interconnection rules for small (SGIP) and large (LGIP) solar facilities on the transmission line systems of the utilities into one inclusive “cluster” process. The serial and much simpler SGIP rules were basically abandoned because of utility concerns for being swamped with applications that had overlapping system reliability concerns being studied in isolation of one another. Indeed the CAISO transmission, SCE WDAT, and PG&E WDAT interconnection queues have exploded during 2010. Late in the fall the three utilities abandoned their WDAT distribution connection rules and moved, in unison, to a “cluster” process .
What this means is that the old serial study of individual projects at specific sites is now gone forever into a study process that puts your project into a system upgrade study process with all projects in the same region of the utility system. There are subtle exceptions such as a proposed Independent Study Process or a Fast Track Process that may be viable for smaller projects, but in general the rules are much more complicated and costly to navigate for a solar PV developer.
With some reading of the massive new rules it becomes apparent that your 2011 project trying to get an interconnection agreement in some finite time MUST be placed into the cluster #4 application group that closes by the end of March 2011. If you miss this window then you may wait until the late fall for another possible opening. Of course by then your possible connection site will already be over the capacity allocation limit for a reasonable interconnection charge and you will get a nice large system upgrade bill over a year later than the first group.
The time is now to work with Solar Land Partners to understand these new realities and to make this looming deadline for both transmission and distribution applications for 2011.