Electricity Markets

California Grid Operator’s Board OKs Proposal to Improve Interconnection Process

The California Independent System Operator (ISO) Board of Governors recently adopted a proposal aimed at improving the grid operator’s interconnection process.

Over the past decade, the ISO received an average of 113 interconnection proposals per year. But last year, as the state accelerated the pace of procurement for renewable and storage resources, applications for new projects more than tripled to 373 projects.

To mitigate the potential for processing delays due to the high number of requests, the ISO began meeting with stakeholders in 2021 to find ways to streamline the interconnection process.

CAISO said the items that received Board approval within the Interconnection Process Enhancement (IPE) Phase 2 proposal help move projects forward more efficiently, enabling the ISO to better manage the queue by:

  • Changing how projects are evaluated so the most viable and ready projects have highest priority;
  • Appropriately balancing cost responsibility between developers and consumers for network upgrades to local transmission systems; and
  • Providing developers of projects located outside of the ISO footprint with a better-defined process which will include reimbursement of their cost for network upgrades that is consistent with projects in the ISO’s balancing area.

Other improvements in the IPE Phase 2 proposal that do not require Board approval include making more non-confidential information available and easier to access to help developers determine the best location to connect new capacity and enabling developers to provide more input during the interconnection planning process on required network upgrades.

Additionally, the Western Energy Imbalance Market (WEIM) Governing Body and the ISO Board of Governors at their joint meeting in October approved a proposal to recognize the Washington State-specific greenhouse gas emission reference levels in the WEIM under Washington State’s recently revised Clean Air Act.

The proposal also includes an approach for supporting certain reporting obligations under Washington’s Climate Commitment Act, which created a cap-and-invest program starting in 2023.