Legal & Regulatory

Sen. King Introduces Bill to Promote Distributed Energy Interconnection Neutrality

A new bill unveiled on May 6 by Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) champions a general right to neutrality of the interconnection of distributed energy resources (DER) and seeks to establish a set of national parameters for how DERs are governed.

The day 30 on clomid no period Free Market Energy Act of 2015 would amend the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 and the Federal Power Act to facilitate a “free market” for distributed energy resources (DERs) by providing for the “nondiscriminatory interconnection” of distributed energy.

It holds that rates and fees for interconnection of DERs—regardless of whether the resource is a qualifying facility—should be “just and reasonable” but should not exceed the actual cost of service.

The bill also seeks retain the authority of each state to design its own set of rules within an established set of governing parameters for distributed energy resources. However, it calls on state regulatory authorities to consider “nontransmission alternatives” in instances in which a regulated utility proposes transmission projects.

At the same time, it requires states to ensure that DERs are eligible to receive just rate treatment for time-of-use pricing, energy sold to a utility, energy bought from a utility, as well as for energy conservation and demand response.

King said the bill is necessary because “antiquated policies governing how these new technologies interact with the grid are leading to problems that are largely being addressed in an inconsistent manner around the country and, as a result, are discouraging investment in DER. For example, utilities can levy expensive grid-connection fees that disincentivize consumers from pursuing newer technologies while, without a more complex electricity rate design, simplistic net metering formulas may not properly compensate grid-owners when these new technologies are connected.”

The bill will “protect the right of consumers to connect their distributed resources to the grid for a reasonable price while also ensuring that grid owners and operators receive proper compensation through a more sophisticated electricity rate design that would maximize the potential of distributed energy resources in relation to the grid,” Sen. King’s office said in a statement.

Sonal Patel, associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)

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