On June 21, 2023, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council released its “Freeing the Grid” interconnection rankings, which rate each state in the country (as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico) on the quality of its interconnection policies. These policies govern how distributed energy resources (DERs), such as solar and energy storage systems, can safely and reliably connect to the distribution grid. Freeing the Grid is a joint initiative of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) and Vote Solar that assesses states on key policies that help increase clean energy adoption and access to the grid.
“The 2023 ‘Off the Grid’ interconnection ratings make it clear that most states have significant room for improvement in interconnection procedures,” said IREC President and CEO Larry Sherwood. “Without improvements to align with new best practices that have emerged over the past few years, state interconnection policies will likely act as a barrier to the efficient and affordable growth of DERs, holding back the pace of meeting clean energy and climate goals. “.
The scores are based on 10 categories of criteria that reflect key considerations to ensure interconnection policies support, rather than hinder, the growth of the clean energy market; these criteria include cost, efficiency, transparency, and technologies eligible for interconnection. Of the 39 states and territories with state bonding procedures, only one state, New Mexico, received an A for its bonding rules. An additional six states (Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Illinois, Michigan, and New York) received B. The rest of the states received a grade of C or lower. An additional 13 states did not adopt the state bonding rules and received “F” grades (Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Wyoming).
“Effective interconnection procedures are critical to ensuring affordable, accessible and reliable clean energy for communities across the country,” said Sachu Constantine, CEO of Vote Solar. “As the interconnection levels of the Liberation Grid demonstrate, states must strengthen interconnection policies to accelerate the equitable growth of solar and other distributed energy resources and to take advantage of the unprecedented benefits available through the Inflation Reduction Act.”
Because interconnection rules dictate how DER projects are reviewed and approved for operation on the electric grid, they determine how efficiently new clean energy resources can be connected to the grid. If they allow for a transparent and expedited review process and provide sufficient clarity around timelines and other expectations, states are more likely to avoid backlogs that can leave projects stuck in interconnection queues and delays that can stretch for months or years. for years. Severe interconnection delays have become an increasingly common challenge across the US as the volume of DER interconnection requests has increased.
Given the importance of standardizing and codifying interconnection practices for a state, IREC’s state interconnection ratings are based only on policies and practices that are expressly included or referenced in the state’s interconnection rules and are therefore applicable to all eligible utilities. This provides greater transparency in the process for both utilities and interconnection customers, ensures that interconnection applicants have a process to refer to if disputes arise, and ultimately ensures that utilities are held accountable for any delays in the process. : The classifications do not reflect interconnection provisions contained in non-state interconnection rules, such as Public Utilities Commission orders, that are not formally adopted in rules or individual utility technical documents. There are some cases where the on-site implementation of a state’s interconnection rules differs from what is required in the state’s interconnection rules, which is not reflected in the ratings.
The state assessments included in Freeing the Grid are intended to help policymakers and other stakeholders identify best policy practices that will enable the rapid growth of DERs. They also provide a basis for states to compare their existing policies with policies adopted in other states. While this release focuses on interconnection degrees, future updates to the Freedom Grid will include other important policies to increase the adoption and availability of clean energy, including net metering and other DER compensation policies.
Interested parties can also register for a free webinar in 2023. on July 12 at 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. period for an overview of the criteria and methodology for evaluating Network Release interconnection units. Key results of 2023 affiliation classes. and a discussion of how states can improve their interconnection rules.
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