Getting on the grid

Source: BY MATTHEW CHOI, Politico • Posted: Monday, May 24, 2021

President Joe Biden’s push for a zero-emission electricity sector by 2035 and the steep declines in the cost of renewables have made the future for clean energy brighter than ever.

But actually hooking up renewable generation to the grid is another story. Wind and solar energy often operate on tighter margins than conventional sources and are typically located in rural areas far from transmission infrastructure. And getting the needed lines out to the new generating sites can place a major financial burden on the developers, who need to abide by rules set nearly two decades ago with major fossil fuel projects in mind.

Getting any kind of utility-scale generation hooked up to the grid takes years, and the backlog of renewable projects is growing. It isn’t an ideal position for project developers who can lose funding and run into a slew of other complications while waiting in line. And the costs of new transmission is often borne by the first project to request it, meaning other generators using the lines later don’t bear that the full upfront cost.

FERC Chair Richard Glick spoke with Pro’s Eric Wolff about the problem, saying the commission was eyeing an outline that would address some of the more specific issues that it hopes to release around the end of the summer. The road map would address “planning interconnection and cost allocation,” he added, which could help even out the cost burden of building new transmission