Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proposes regulatory reforms

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proposes regulatory reforms

January 24, 2013 0 By Alicia Moore

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Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Solar Energy

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission takes steps to improve solar energy industry

The U.S. solar energy industry may have just received some good news from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The federal agency has released a new set of regulatory reforms that are meant to streamline the country’s energy grid and help it become more accommodating to mid-sized solar energy systems. If these regulatory reforms are approved, they could help significantly increase the number of solar energy projects that qualify for the federal government’s “fast track” plans concerning the adoption of solar power.

Reform may be good news for solar energy industry

The changes that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is looking to make will alter Order Number 2006, which established the country’s interconnection procedures concerning wholesale electricity generation projects under 20 megawatts of capacity. Order Number 2006 was widely accepted by several states throughout the country, but the regulatory structure, which was established in 2005, was unable to account for the extremely rapid growth of the solar energy market. Now, the regulation may be doing more harm than good, as it has successfully prevented several new solar energy projects from taking form.

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Clean Energy Quotes To Remember - “For example, a breakthrough in better batteries could supplant hydrogen. Better solar cells could replace or win out in this race to the fuel of the future. Those, I see, as the three big competitors: hydrogen, solar cells and then better batteries.”

- Bob Inglis, Politician

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Reform will bring several benefits to mid-sized projects

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is looking to allow projects seeking interconnection to be provided with pre-application reports from transmission operators. These reports will evaluate the viability of a prospective solar energy project before a formal interconnection request can be made, allowing these projects to be better prepared for the process. The agency is also looking to increase the “fast track” threshold for solar energy projects from 2 megawatts to 5 megawatts. Projects that are eligible for the “fast track” receive significant support from the federal government to speed up their completion.

Changing solar industry requires better regulatory structure

These regulatory changes could be a major boon to the solar energy industry of the country. The industry has already benefited from the support of the federal government over the years, as well as that coming from particular states. As the industry continues to evolve, however, the need for better regulations that support the growth of the industry, rather than stifle it, are needed to ensure continued success.