FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, June 9, 2009
MEDIA CONTACT: Leah Mohr, Communications Manager, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, (605) 773-3201
New PUC interconnection rules become official
PIERRE, S.D. – New rules by the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission that make it easier for small electricity generators such as wind turbines and solar panels to connect to the electric grid were approved by the legislative rules review committee today, June 9. The rules will be effective at the end of this month.
The new rules streamline the interconnection process for small generators by providing consistent engineering requirements as well as predictable and reasonable fees and timelines among the state's six investor-owned utilities. Previously, each utility allowed small generators to connect to its electric distribution system according to company-specific policies that varied from company to company. The statewide rules simplify the process and remove barriers to encourage energy development, particularly renewable energy.
"This wasn't an easy process," stated Dusty Johnson, the commission's chairman. "The end result is a set of procedures that is going to get small generators online sooner and more efficiently," Johnson said.
Small generator facilities that produce up to 10 megawatts of electricity will be able to use standard application forms and legal agreements. Expedited reviews for smaller projects are also part of the new rules.
The regulated utilities – Black Hills Power, MidAmerican Energy Co., Montana-Dakota Utilities Co., NorthWestern Energy, Otter Tail Power Co. and Xcel Energy – and the Environmental Law & Policy Center had a hand in crafting the rules. Representatives of these companies and PUC staff held negotiations beginning in 2007 that included workshops, reviews of other state's rules and comments from the distributed generation community. The PUC approved the rules during a May 28 hearing.
PUC Vice Chairman Steve Kolbeck noted the new standards support all types of renewable energy generation. "Certainly, this is a positive step for wind energy development," he said. "Energy producers using solar, anaerobic digestion or small combustion turbines will benefit as well. Engineers, operations managers, utility analysts and legal experts familiar with these resources made significant contributions to the development of these rules," he concluded.
"The rules strike a balance among the distributed generator, the utility and the company's ratepayers," remarked PUC Commissioner Gary Hanson. "There was a great deal of attention paid to drafting rules that are fair to all the players. That was no small task, taking into account that a 2-kilowatt project, for example, has different considerations than a 10-megawatt project does," Hanson said.
For additional information, view the PUC's docket at www.PUC.SD.gov, Commission Actions, Commission Dockets, Rulemaking Dockets, 2008 Rulemaking Dockets,
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