Interconnection - Getting Energy to Market
The electrical generation, transmission, and distribution system has been labeled the most complex machine ever created by humans. There are many rules and regulations to ensure that it runs reliably, and as a result the process for interconnecting your energy project with this system involves dealing with regulatory agencies at the state and regional level as well as utility personnel, engineering consultants, and lawyers with experience with interconnection contracts. It can take over a year to complete the required interconnection studies and can cost your project up into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. You will need to weigh the results of conversations and studies to determine if it is worth moving on to the next phase of studies or if the cost of interconnection will not allow your site to be profitable.
The 2006 Minnesota Wind Integration Study found that enough wind power to supply up to 25% of Minnesota's retail electricity sales by 2020 can be reliably incorporated by the electric power system at minimal additional cost. The study was ordered by the Minnesota Legislature. Find a summary slide presentation here.
Interconnection is the process of hooking your wind electricity generator into the larger electricity grid.
Interconnection standards and policies vary from state to state, and can have a large impact on the economics and feasibility of wind projects.
Learn more about interconnection standards from The Interstate Renewable Energy Council's Connecting to the Grid program.
This is the production of reactive power to maintain stability on the transmission system. Power on the system comes in two main types: the first is the power that is actually delivered to end users, and the second is reactive power, which is power provided to the system to maintain the system, rather than for end-use consumption.
The contract to buy the electricity generated by a power plant. Securing a good PPA is often one of the most challenging elements of wind project development.
A electric transformer that is mounted on the ground as opposed to a pole mounted transformer. A pole mounted transformer is mounted on a pole that holds electric power lines.
An electrical generator that can provide support to the system in terms of real or reactive power supply, spinning reserve, or other services that the system operator requires to keep the system operating in a safe and reliable manner. Generally wind projects can only qualify as an energy resource because of their non-dispatchable nature, i.e. they can only supply energy to the system when the wind is blowing and not when the system requires it.
The concept of net metering programs is to allow utility customers to generate their own electricity from renewable resources, such as small wind turbines and solar electric systems. The customers send excess electricity back to the utility when their wind system, for example, produces more power than they need. Customers can then get power from the utility when their wind system doesn’t produce enough power. In effect, net metering allows the interconnected customer to use the electrical grid as a storage battery. This helps customers get higher (retail) value for more of their self-generated electricity. In practice, net metering and net billing vary from state to state based on rules for such arrangements defined by the state. For information about your particular state visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy: www.dsireusa.org.