Clearing the current queue backlog is the focus of the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) generator interconnection staff. However, they are missing a key long-term solution to address the root cause of backlog, identifying network upgrade costs for developers.

Indeed, renewable energy (RE) developers could check if alternatives to network upgrades exist if these developers have study results in hand. SPP staff should run multiple Definitive Interconnection System Impact Study (DISIS) study cycle models to identify the portfolio of network upgrades. That study would indicate possible costs for developers. As a result, they would then choose to stay in the queue or drop out. If RE developers default in PPAs due to SPP queue delays, that ultimately would increase the cost of the renewable projects.

SPP queue stats and background

SPP has 100 GWs of capacity of renewable energy projects in its backlog. These are from 533 interconnection customer (IC) requests. Unlike PJM, SPP is focused solely on clearing out the generator interconnection queue backlog. SPP’s generator queue backlog is not higher in volume than PJM’s 2000 projects and 200 GWs backlog.

Similar to PJM, SPP must seek multiple stakeholder committee approvals before FERC tariff filing. In SPP’s case, the Markets and Operations Policy Committee (MOPC) is the top committee that must review and approve the SPP stakeholder’s perspective.

SPP’s recent reforms

SPP’s lower stakeholder committee, Strategic & Creative Re-Engineering of Integrated Planning Team (SCRIPT), recently approved unanimously 3 strategies to reduce their current backlog. These include

1) reducing restudying by increased site control requirements and non-refundable DISIS study deposits, 2) increasing financial commitments from $2,000/MW to $4,000/MW, and making 25% of financial security “at-risk” payments after the start of phase 1 and end of decision point 1, and 3) streamlining DISIS study cycles by combining 2018 and 2019 and other study improvements.

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