Fixing interconnection

ERCOT is connecting power generators faster than any other electricity market in the country. Could we fix the U.S. interconnection bottleneck Texas-style?

On the Catalyst with Shayle Kann podcast this week:

Everything’s bigger in Texas — the hats, the boots, the convenience stores. But its interconnection times? They’re surprisingly short.

In the U.S., it takes power generators four years on average to get approval to connect to the grid, and in some places, it takes far longer. In the Texas electricity market, it takes only about 1.5 years between interconnection request and agreement. And it costs way less to interconnect in the Lone Star State, too. 

This condensed approval process has led to big renewables deployments. The Texas grid, most of which is operated by the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, has installed more wind power than any other state: 40+ gigawatts’ worth. It’s also installed almost 19 gigawatts of solar power, second only to California. ERCOT has interconnected twice as much generation as PJM, an electricity market in the Mid-Atlantic, even though PJM is nearly two times as big as ERCOT in terms of peak load. 

So what does Texas know about interconnection that the rest of the U.S. doesn’t? And how could other states learn from Texas? 

In this episode, Shayle talks to Tyler Norris, a doctoral student at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and former vice president of development at Cypress Creek Renewables. Tyler recently published a policy brief on how the U.S. could reform its interconnection process, applying lessons from ERCOT.

They cover topics including:

  • The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Order 2023 and moving from serial-based to cluster-based queue studies.

  • Why FERC’s system-impact studies lead to long delays and high costs.

  • ERCOT’s shorter and lower-cost process, known as connect-and-manage.”

  • Reforming FERC interconnection with a two-step process: first energy, then capacity cluster studies.

  • Proactive transmission planning.

Recommended resources:

Catalyst is a co-production of Post Script Media and Canary Media.

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