CSE’s efforts to streamline rooftop solar installation permitting and interconnection processes were highlighted by two staff members at EUCI’s energy professionals conference entitled "Optimizing the Interconnection Process for Renewables and Storage" held in Baltimore in July.
Marcus Gilmore, senior manager of Distributed Energy Resource (DER) Programs, provided updates on CSE’s work with the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Laboratories on regional programs to streamline interconnection for developers of small-scale solar photovoltaic systems.
Gilmore's presentation included an overview of an analysis of the interconnection applications used by four utilities in California, which was conducted by Energy Solutions as part of CSE’s Rooftop Solar Challenge II project. In addition to sharing information from this project, Gilmore discussed some of the challenges associated with other approaches proposed by subsequent projects, including the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s discrete choice analysis, Understanding Streamlined Solar Permitting Practices: A Primer. He concluded with a brief overview of other DOE-funded initiatives that have made progress toward developing and implementing interconnection solutions.
Rebecca Baptiste, associate manager of DER Programs, served on a panel about optimizing the interconnection process that focused on data handling, transparency and communications. On the developers’ side, having the utilities provide robust hosting capacity maps and other utility infrastructure data can improve solar project siting, which would help reduce their interconnection costs. On the utility side, interconnection staff would like more concise and comprehensive data about the distributed energy resources being interconnected to the grid to improve grid harmonization, better plan capital infrastructure needs and model anticipated performance of the systems.
Out of these discussions came two main conclusions. First, the development of a standardized data dictionary would translate common data fields among systems and help streamline the sharing of information between utilities, developers and regulators. API’s could be leveraged to ensure this standard data dictionary can “talk” effectively with the large variety of platform systems used by different parties. Secondly, today’s increased data transparency and communication of sensitive data comes with an increased need to address cybersecurity and devise better ways to control access to these information pathways.
Overall, expedited interconnection and improved data communications will serve to increase grid harmonization and resiliency.
Learn more about CSE’s project work to streamline solar permitting and interconnection processes by visiting the Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Studies page.