Interconnection standards are the rules that guide how utilities allow people to connect electricity generating systems, such as rooftop solar, to the electric grid. Minnesota was one of the first states to adopt broad interconnection standards. But these were last updated in 2004, so an overhaul was overdue. A group of stakeholders, including Fresh Energy, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, and the Environmental Law & Policy Center, petitioned the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) back in 2016 to update the interconnection standards. Distributed generation projects stand to benefit from updating the standards.
In May, the PUC announced updated interconnection standards. Here are the highlights of the changes that impact rooftop systems:
- Small rooftop solar projects now can use simpler application and review process. The timeline is currently set at 11 weeks, which is much longer than the average in other states (4 weeks). The PUC is still deciding on one key aspect of this timeline, though, which may shorten it further.
- Utilities with more than 40 interconnection applications per year will now publish a public interconnection queue that allows customers to track their project’s progress.
- Minnesota’s rules are now aligned with a national model, set in 2014 by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). This makes it simpler for installers to understand the rules and creates greater consistency across all Minnesota utilities, which makes the whole process easier and less expensive for rooftop solar consumers.
The PUC also acknowledged that these standards may need to be updated more frequently than every twelve years, so they made a new framework to allow for periodic updates. Solar United Neighbors will continue to monitor these standards and update you on further changes.