A new ruling by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has opened the doors to connect more solar arrays and wind farms to the power grid. FERC’s new ruling in Order 792, updates its existing rules for small generators to reflect the latest developments in the energy storage field. The new order adds energy storage as a power source that is eligible to connect to the grid, effectively giving energy storage the same status and inclusion in the same category as the existing Small Generator Interconnection Procedures. It also makes energy storage eligible for the existing fast track process.
FERC’s explanation for issuing Order 792 was as follows:
“…the Commission finds it necessary under section 206 of the Federal Power Act to revise the pro forma SGIP [Small Generator Interconnection Procedures] and pro forma SGIA [Small Generator Interconnection Agreement] to ensure that the rates, terms and conditions under which public utilities provide interconnection service to Small Generating Facilities remain just and reasonable and not unduly discriminatory.”
Darrel Hayslip, the Chair of the Energy Storage Association (ESA) expressed her approval of the new order:
“We commend the FERC Commissioners for acknowledging that energy storage should be able to participate in the small generator interconnection process on our electric grid and that our rules and policies should evolve as well. These reforms are good news for storage project developers and further facilitate the deployment of storage on the power grid.”
The implications for renewable energy—especially for wind and solar power—are optimistic, in light of FERC’s Order 784, which the agency adopted in July. Order 784 permitted renewable energy storage sources into the ancillary services market by requiring utilities to consider speed and precision when deciding on which source to buy. Ancillary services are power sources that utility companies can access on an as-needed basis.
Order 784 filled a critical gap in the rules for ancillary services, which previously specified generation, transmission, distribution, and load facilities—in essence everything but energy storage. As it now stands, with Orders 792 and 784 in place, energy storage is on equal footing when utilities are considering proposals for ancillary services, competing directly with gas and coal power plants. Utilities usually tap gas and coal for their ancillary services.
Experts say that Hawaii is ready for the renewable energy, in part due to its reliance on expensive imported diesel fuel. The same can be said for the U.S. Virgin Islands, which also derives the vast majority of its resources from off-island outlets.
With that in mind, a new Xtreme Power partnership with the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative plans to go online shortly with a two megawatt lithium ion energy storage system for a 12 megawatt solar farm. The completion of this project is expected in the spring of 2014.
The addition of utility scale storage facilities is expected by industry experts to have a ripple effect on the renewable energy market in Hawaii. Grid flexibility will be more readily attained with the help of the new Kauai energy farm.
The U.S. Virgin Islands could use this Hawaii project as a template for planning and implementing its own alternative energy system. If you have questions about the renewable energy and how it can benefit your business, or would like to talk to Tom Bolt about the prospect of new, emerging technologies in the United States Virgin Islands, please contact him at BoltNagi PC.
BoltNagi PC is one of the largest firms in the United States Virgin Islands and has experienced legal professionals to assist companies based in or seeking to relocate in the U.S. Virgin Islands. BoltNagi means business!