Like other Independent System Operators have done before it, the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) is back at the drawing board in an effort to further refine its generator interconnection procedures and improve on queue reforms initially put in place in 2009. And also like other ISOs that have continued to tinker with queue reform, SPP is looking to make the interconnection process more demanding so that only the "viable" projects get through.
Among the various proposed changes, there are a few that generation developers should key in on.
SPP proposes to allow later-queued customers pass by higher-queued customers in terms of queue priority, provided that the later-queued customer is the first to reach the Facilities Study phase. Previously, customers who reached the DISIS queue could not lose their queue priority and be passed by. But now priority goes to customers who reach the Facilities Study first. This change, of course, will impact customers' cost responsibilities, as priority to unused transmission capacity will be subject to the race to the top.
To enter the Facilities Study phase (and lock in queue priority), customers must complete a financial milestone by providing security equal to $3,000 per megawatt of the generator size. SPP has proposed removing other choices that customers previously used for entering this phase of the study process. But watch out--customers who later withdraw from the queue may forfeit this deposit.
Prior to signing an interconnection agreement, an interconnection customer may extend its commercial operation date by no more than three years. Anything longer will be considered a material modification and will result in a loss of queue position.
Under proposed revisions to the interconnection agreement, a customer would have three years following its designated Commercial Operation Date to complete its generating facility. A customer who fails to do so will have its interconnection agreement terminated. In addition, customers who fail to bring their full generation capacity online within that timeframe will lose rights to any capacity that remains unused at the three-year mark.
Lastly, customers who sign an interconnection agreement must post 20% of the costs of their network upgrades within 30 days of execution. This deposit may be non-refundable under certain circumstances.
Given the queue reforms that FERC has accepted in other regions, it's likely that much of what SPP has proposed will make it into the tariff.
SPP has asked that these latest reforms be made effective March 1, 2014, and applicable to any customer who does not have an interconnection agreement with an earlier effective date. For those customers currently negotiating an interconnection agreement: the race is on.