Yesterday (Jan. 16, 2019), in a move applauded by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) and Western Resource Advocates (WRA), the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) took a significant step forward to make it easier for Arizonans to install clean, “distributed generation” energy technologies, such as solar panels, batteries, and combined heat and power systems.
After years of study, the ACC, which regulates utilities in the state, approved new draft interconnection rules yesterday that will standardize how these technologies connect to the grid. Once finalized, the new rules will boost the economy, grow businesses, create jobs, and save consumers money.
“Without these interconnection rules, Arizonans seeking to install clean energy technologies often face a patchwork of requirements and procedures that differ from one utility to the next, which can be costly and time consuming to navigate,” said Ken Wilson, Western Resource Advocates engineering fellow. “Now that Arizona will have the same standards around the state, we will have a much bigger market for solar panels and other distributed clean energy, and we will see more projects implemented. This change means more options for consumers and more people taking advantage of cheaper, cleaner energy, which ultimately translates into a bigger economy.”
At its meeting yesterday, the ACC ordered Commission staff to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR), to be filed with the Secretary of State by January 25, 2019, which begins the formal rulemaking process. The next step in the process will be for interested parties to file written comments on the draft rules with the ACC. The ACC will also hold oral proceedings for comment from the public on the draft rules on March 28, 2019, at the ACC’s offices in Tucson and on March 29, 2019, at the ACC’s offices in Phoenix.
The rulemaking on interconnection standards, which began 13 years ago, involved studying how different options would affect the grid. The new rules will go into effect later this year once the rulemaking process is complete.
“Kudos to the Arizona Commission for deciding this process needed to be completed, cutting through red tape, and getting it done,” said Jeff Schlegel, SWEEP Arizona representative. “The rules are among the most cutting-edge policies in the country because they account for emerging technologies, such as battery storage.”
“The rules should reduce the cost of distributed energy projects in Arizona, including combined heat and power, which uses a single fuel source to produce both electricity and heating,” added Neil Kolwey, SWEEP Industrial Program director. “When you have interconnection standards, projects are cheaper and easier to implement because you know exactly what requirements and processes to expect. These new rules will open the door to more clean energy projects across the state.”
The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) is a public-interest organization promoting greater energy efficiency in Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. For more information, visit www.swenergy.org
Western Resource Advocates works to protect the West’s land, air, and water so that our communities thrive in balance with nature. WRA’s team of scientists, lawyers, and economists craft and implement innovative solutions to the most complex natural resource challenges in the region. For more information, visit www.westernresourceadvocates.org and follow us on Twitter @wradv