Calif regulators recommend $1400 distributed generation fee

Fees for evaluating the feasibility of connecting a distributed generation project to the California grid should not exceed $1,400, the siting committee for the California Energy Commission says in a new set of recommendations on interconnection rules.

A key issue and one of the most contentious, the siting committee delayed making a recommendation on the topic in its initial June interconnection report. Distributed generation supporters claim electric utilities use high fees as a means of discouraging outsiders from connecting to the grid.

PG&E Corp. initially proposed charging $900-$1,000 for reviewing an application, performing an engineering analysis, and processing contracts. However, other parties questioned the amount of time PG&E was allocating to the work and the committee cut it almost in half, according to the report.

The group proposed 8 hr or $800 as sufficient to conduct an initial review and an additional 6 hr to resolve issues not addresses in the initial review for a maximum of $1,400. The criteria of the charge was based on the notion of providing the electric utility an opportunity to resolve issues not addressed in the initial review without making "the review cost prohibitive to those not interested in a full blown interconnection study," the report notes.

For the sake of flexibility, the committee said an applicant may propose and the utility may negotiate specific costs for processing nonstandard installations such as multiple units or multiple sites.

Members said they will leave it up to the California Public Utilities Commission to determine how much of the cost should be by the electrical utility and how much by the applicant. In the event an interconnection application is rejected, the committee recommended $400 be returned to the applicant.

It also recommends interconnection feasibility study costs should be revisited 2 years after implementation to determine if adjustments need to be made to the rules.


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