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U.S. Laws and Regulations for Renewable Energy Grid Interconnections

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Ilya Chernyakhovskiy, Tian Tian, Joyce McLaren, Mackay Miller, Nina Geller
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Rapidly declining costs of wind and solar energy technologies, increasing concerns about the environmental and climate change impacts of fossil fuels, and sustained investment in renewable energy projects all point to a not-so-distant future in which renewable energy plays a pivotal role in the electric power system of the 21st century. In light of public pressures and market factors that hasten the transition towards a low-carbon system, power system planners and regulators are preparing to integrate higher levels of variable renewable generation into the grid. Updating the regulations that govern generator interconnections and operations is crucial to ensure system reliability while creating an enabling environment for renewable energy development. This report presents a chronological review of energy laws and regulations concerning grid interconnection procedures in the United States, highlighting the consequences of policies for renewable energy interconnections. Where appropriate, this report places interconnection policies and their impacts on renewable energy within the broader context of power market reform. The purpose of the report is twofold. First, it seeks to provide an accessible reference and brief overview of interconnection policies and their impacts for renewable energy in the United States. The report outlines how interconnection policies influence electricity markets and renewable energy development through regulation of transmission access and ratemaking, dispatch procedures, technology requirements, system planning, and interconnection procedures. Second, the paper attempts to clearly outline the relevant stakeholders and institutional framework under which interconnection regulations in the United States have been developed and implemented.