Representative Kathy Castor Introduces Bill to Improve Grid Interconnection Processes

Grid Interconnection Legislation Would Facilitate Renewable Energy Development through Grid Enhancing Technologies  

June 22, 2021

Media Contact: Julia Selker, 541-908-5792, jselker@gridstrategiesllc.com 

Today, Chair Kathy Castor of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis introduced the Efficient Grid Interconnection Act of 2021. This bill would integrate Grid Enhancing Technologies (GETs) into the interconnection study process, requiring that they be considered as solutions to transmission constraints and ensuring that interconnection customers, such as renewable generators or energy storage providers, can request their use.   

This legislation is a timely response to long wait times and low commercialization rates in interconnection queues. A report from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory last month showed that energy development projects that were not yet built but had interconnection agreements had been in the queues for nearly four years on average. In addition, wind and solar projects saw lower completion rates than other generation types.  

 In February 2021, the Brattle Group’s study Unlocking the Queue with Grid Enhancing Technologies evaluated renewable energy projects with executed interconnection agreements in Kansas and Oklahoma and found that GETs could double the amount of generation built compared to what was possible with only planned traditional transmission upgrades. 

“Renewable energy developers face a huge amount of uncertainty in the interconnection processes,” said Jay Caspary, Vice President at Grid Strategies LLC. “Developers don’t know whether they’ll be asked to spend $10 million or $50 million on transmission upgrades, or whether they’ll wait 3 months or 3 years for the needed grid capacity. Grid Enhancing Technologies can be lower-cost and faster to implement than traditional transmission investments, while enabling significant increases in transmission capacity.” 

“Studies suggest that Grid Enhancing Technologies enable twice as much clean generation to be connected to transmission systems.” said Jenny Erwin, chair of the WATT Coalition Board and Director of Strategic Marketing at Smart Wires. “By incorporating Grid Enhancing Technologies into interconnection studies, this bill will enable a much faster expansion of clean energy and its associated benefits like local jobs, tax dollars and cleaner air. This legislation along with these rapid, affordable technologies are critical to achieving President Biden’s goal of 50% reduction in greenhouse gas pollution by 2030.” 

This legislation follows other major initiatives to improve America’s transmission infrastructure and expand the use of GETs. The Biden Administration’s executive actions to support grid modernization and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s September 10 technical conference on performance-based incentives for Grid Enhancing Technologies are two examples of efforts that will complement Chair Castor’s bill with the shared goals to accelerate the energy transition, improve reliability, and reduce costs to ratepayers.  

About the WATT Coalition: The Working for Advanced Transmission Technologies (WATT) Coalition advocates for policy that supports wide deployment of Grid-Enhancing Technologies (GETs), to accelerate the clean energy transition and lower energy costs. Dynamic Line Ratings determine the true, real-time capacity of power lines. Advanced Power Flow Control allows operators to reroute power to lines with available capacity. Topology Optimization identifies the best grid reconfigurations to reroute flow around bottlenecks. In operations, these technologies reduce congestion costs and improve economic dispatch, situational awareness and reliability. In planning, they reduce the time, cost and complexity of integrating new generation and load. WATT members include Ampacimon, EDF Renewables North America, Heimdall Power, LineVision, Lindsey Systems, NewGrid, Smart Wires, and WindSim Power Inc. Learn about unlocking more value from the grid at watt-transmission.org.