More Detail on the Massachusetts DG Interconnection Docket

On Monday, August 19, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (“DPU”) provided additional information on the timing, process, and scope of its investigation into DG interconnection. The full memorandum from the Hearing Officer is here. This procedural update follows the July 18 technical conference, which we summarized here. A few key points from the memorandum:

  • Three additional technical conferences have been scheduled in the docket for October 3, October 24, and November 21. The topics for those conferences are not yet set.
  • The DPU is holding bi-weekly meetings with National Grid, New England Power, and ISO-NE regarding National Grid’s “Cluster Study”. The DPU is “working on creative methods to remove certain DG facilities from the Cluster Study,” and will provide updates to the DPU 19-55 electronic distribution list. We will have to wait to see what this means and whether it bears fruit.
  • There is an ongoing collaborative effort to prepare revisions to the DG Interconnection Tariff related to affected system operator studies by August 29. Email contacts for participation in this process are provided in the Hearing Officer’s memorandum. A short comment period will be provided after those draft revisions are filed and will end on September 9.
  • Recognizing that addressing the high volume of interconnection requests (and presumably the associated delays) is a top priority for stakeholders, the DPU has solicited comments on recommendations for improvements, due by September 18.
  • The DPU is also seeking comments on specific topics relating to interconnecting energy storage systems, due by September 27. The scope of these comments is focused on a proposed uniform questionnaire created by the Massachusetts Technical Standards Review Group and a “decisions tree or tiered system” for reviewing existing interconnection applications that add energy storage.
  • The DPU also clarified the metering-related topics it expects to address in this docket. It will not address DC-coupled behind-the-meter facilities with back up capability in this docket, although it suggested it may open a separate docket on this issue. It will address metering of DC-coupled standalone facilities, and wants to build off of prior efforts by some stakeholders. And it will also address AC-coupled facilities. It has scheduled meetings on these topics for September 11 (morning and afternoon, respectively) and provided instructions for online registration by “stakeholders with specialized knowledge” of the issues.

The DPU clearly wants to move this docket expeditiously, but there is a lot of ground to cover. Hopefully, stakeholders are able to keep abreast and participate robustly. The ground rules for interconnection matter, even the details, and the final tariffs and rules will be better able to meat the needs of a changing energy grid in Massachusetts if a variety of stakeholders participate.