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Renewables Face Long Wait Times

By NAM News Room

Wind and solar-energy projects are experiencing multiyear wait times to connect to the power grid—only to be hit with fees they can’t afford once they reach the front of the line, according to CNBC.

What’s going on: “To connect a new source of power to the U.S. electric grid requires generators to go through an application process. … This application process, called the interconnection queue, is delaying the distribution of clean power and hampering the U.S. in reaching its climate goals.”

  • Electricity generators that have spent millions on renewables projects are being told their cost to connect to the grid has increased suddenly, sometimes more than 19 times the initial quote. 
  • On average, it took a new project 25 months to get from application filing to an interconnection agreement being reached.

Why it’s important: “There are efforts underway to improve the efficiency of the process, but they’re fundamentally putting a Band-Aid on top of an even deeper problem in the United States: There isn’t enough transmission infrastructure to support the energy transition from fossil fuel sources of energy to clean sources of energy.”

  • The entire U.S. electrical grid has installed capacity of 1.250 gigawatts, and there are 2.020 gigawatts of capacity in the interconnection queue.
  • The problem stems from a 1996 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission order that mandates service be provided to generators “on a nondiscriminatory basis.” It’s a process that was not designed with renewables in mind.

A model state: “The long application timelines and expensive upgrades have made Texas a desirable place to build renewable energy projects because the state has its own interconnection application process. … Texas doesn’t require the same level of network upgrades to get power generation connected to the grid so getting a project online in Texas is faster and lower cost than the rest of the country.”

The NAM says: “Anecdotes and experiences like these are why permitting reform continues to be a top priority for manufacturers,” said NAM Director of Energy and Resources Policy Chris Morris.

  • “Without streamlined and efficient processes to deploy cutting-edge technologies and integrate them securely into the grid, projects will continue to experience delays and incur unexpected fees. Manufacturers applaud the House of Representatives prioritizing and passing a permitting reform package, and the NAM continues to work with the Senate and all policymakers to enact meaningful permitting reforms.”
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