FERC Final Rule Will Speed Interconnection of Clean Energy Generators to Grid


Shannon Van Hoesen, shannon.vanhoesen@sierraclub.org


Washington, D.C. - During its monthly meeting today, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released its final interconnection rule to fix a backlog of clean energy projects waiting to be brought online and speed up the process for future projects.

The new rule is aimed at clearing the long list of projects in “interconnection queues” across the country, in which hundreds of clean energy generation projects are currently being subjected to significant delays as they attempt to connect to regional power grids. The wait for explicit permission to interconnect in many regions has stretched to years. At least 90 percent of the projects in the queue are devoted to clean energy generation or storage.

First proposed in July 2021, and issued in draft form in June 2022, the now-final rule will reform the interconnection process by requiring more efficient and timely studies of potential projects, imposing penalties on transmission providers that fail to meet deadlines, and mandating operational upgrades to better evaluate the interconnection of new and emerging technologies, in particular mandating improved interconnection processes that will make hybrid and storage resources better able to interconnect. 

The final rule also dispensed with proposed requirements for new projects to secure their customers before seeking interconnection, which would have added an unnecessary burden on independent developers. However, the rule maintains disproportionately burdensome site restrictions, and imposes higher study and withdrawal fees. These remaining restrictions respond to an unfounded perception that the interconnection queues are flooded with speculative projects. 

The standards laid out in this final rule will need to be implemented by Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) and separately regulated transmission providers (especially in the non-California west and southeast) across the country. Reflecting the urgency of the issue, FERC is requiring those implementation plans to be submitted within 90 days.

In response, Sierra Club Senior Attorney Greg Wannier released the following statement:

“New generation projects are waiting far too long for interconnection, stymying the clean energy transition. While we are still evaluating the details of this extensive rule and weighing our options regarding aspects of the rule we may disagree with, we are hopeful that on balance this rule will help grid operators clear those backlogs and create robust, transparent, and flexible interconnection procedures that are designed to handle the massive amounts of clean energy poised to come online in the next several years. Moving these renewable generation and storage facilities from the queue to the real world is a critical step toward creating a clean, reliable, and efficient energy grid, and we look forward to ensuring any process improvements here are implemented swiftly and fairly by grid operators across the country.” 


About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.