Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Energy
Department of Energy
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8/23/18  12:15 pm
Commenter: Matthew Meares, Virginia Solar

Recommendation for VA Energy Plan

1. Definition of Solar technology.   The Governor should request of the Attorney General’s office for an interpretation of the definition of a small renewable energy project in § 10.1-1197.5, and in other places in the code, relative to if batteries are included.   The suggested interpretation is batteries should be part of a small renewable energy project to the extent that under Title 26 U.S. Code § 45, § 48 or § 25 the batteries qualify as qualified energy property.  The IRS has ruled in Private Letter Ruling 201308005 that to the extent no more than 25% of the energy stored in the batteries comes from a source other than the renewable energy generation in question over a year, that the batteries are considered qualified energy property.  An interpretation of the VA Code by the Attorney General’s office in the same manner would bring Virginia’s state permitting code into conformance with the federal tax code and would clarify how batteries should be permitted. 

§ 10.1-1197.5. Definitions.

As used in this article, "small renewable energy project" means (i) an electrical generation facility with a rated capacity not exceeding 150 megawatts that generates electricity only from sunlight or wind; (ii) an electrical generation facility with a rated capacity not exceeding 100 megawatts that generates electricity only from falling water, wave motion, tides, or geothermal power; or (iii) an electrical generation facility with a rated capacity not exceeding 20 megawatts that generates electricity only from biomass, energy from waste, or municipal solid waste.

2.Small Interconnection Process.  The Governor should request the State Corporations Commission to open Administrative Code Title 20, Chapter 314 (20VAC5-314) in its entirety to a public comment period for the improvement of the regulations.  The current interconnection queue governed by these regulations is currently not functioning in an efficient manner.  One of the major problems that has arisen since the last revision that was not envisioned when the standard were approved is the significant amount of interactions and interdependencies between and among projects, which needs to be resolved.  Some of the recommended changes, many of which come from similar regulations in North Carolina, are:

  1. Project which qualify as level three where  a  deposit  should be required in the amount of $20,000, plus $1per kWac  of  the nameplate capacity  specified  in  the  Interconnection  Request  Application  Form,  not to  exceed  a total  deposit  of  $100,000.  This new deposit requirement would apply to all proposed facilities currently in the queue, as well as new interconnection requests.
  2. Add a requirement for site control, requiring that both existing and new interconnection requests must have to demonstrate site control. Existing interconnection requests would have to demonstrate site control within 30 calendar days following the later of the effective date of the revised standard or the posted date of notice in writing from the utility. New interconnection requests would be required to demonstrate site control at the time the request is submitted.
  3. Establishes clearly defined and enforceable due dates for each step of the process for both the utilities and the ICs. Under the current Interconnection Standard, there are several steps in the process for which the Interconnection customers do not have a deadline for responding.  If they are late they should be removed from the queue.
  4. Require the utilities to pay interest on the new and existing deposits made by ICs at the statutory interest rate beginning whenever the utility do not meet its statuary deadline for returning a study.  Currently there are no penalties for when utility is late.
  5. The  Utilities  should  increase transparency  in  the  interconnection  process  and  shall  provide  two  quarterly  reports. 
    1. The  first  is  to  provide  a  snapshot  of  the  interconnection  queue  and  shall be  filed  in spreadsheet   form   listing   in   separate   columns:
      1. each interconnection request identified by QueueNumber and fuel type;
      2. date of issuance of Queue Number;
      3. the interconnection request’s capacity;
      4. the substation to which the project will be interconnected;
      5. the feeder/circuit to which the project will be interconnected; and
      6. interconnection requests that have been denied or withdrawn.
    2. In the second report filed   quarterly,   the   Utilities   shall   report   on   queue   performance   in   moving   the interconnection   requests   through   the   study   process   to   a   final   interconnection agreement and construction of any  upgrades.  The Utilities shall track  interconnection requests from:
      1. the date a queue number is assigned to the date an interconnection agreement  is  sent  by  the  Utility  to  the  IC  for  execution;  and 
      2. from  the  date  the  IC returns  the  executed  interconnection  agreement  (along  with  payment  to  construct Upgrades  and  Interconnection  Facilities)  to  the  date  the  Interconnection  Facilities (along  with  any  required  Upgrades)  are  completed and available  for  operation by  the IC.
  6. The Utilities shall take into account the advanced functionality of inverters, including their ability to provide/absorb reactive power and control the voltage, and uses these capabilities first, before requiring upgrades to the grid, to the extent the new project allows the utility to control these settings in real time. 
  7. The Utilities will use the ONAF rating of transformers when evaluating the loading of transformers on their system and the ability to interconnect new generating facilities. 
  8. In the preapplication meeting, the Utilities shall provide at minimum the following information, but will make no warranty to its accuracy:
    1. Voltage of the circuit from the point of interconnection to the substation with distances of each.
    2. Circuit number and distance to substation
    3. Circuit conductor sizing and distance of each
    4. Transformer the circuit goes into and its rating
    5. What other projects, their proposed size, and status is on both the circuit and the relevant transformer
    6. Information on what other transformers are in the substation and their ratings
    7. How many voltage regulators and/or capacitors are between the point of interconnection and the substation

3. Permit By Rule.  The Governor should open up the Permit by Rule regulations.  There are numerous improvements which need to be made.

  1. No operating plan should be required when there is no mitigation.
  2. The inconsistency between the required environmental certification in relation to needing to apply for a storm water plan need needs to be resolved.
  3. The electronic copy of the application should be submitted at the same time the public comment version has to be made available and not earlier.  
  4. The fees need to be raised as they are to low. 
  5. Many of the follow up requirements are missing clearly defined dates and time periods for actions to occur. 
    1. The biggest issue is there is no date by which an interconnection agreement received has to then be sent to DEQ. 
    2. The next biggest is when does notice of intent for a project need to be actually submitted to DEQ (Current language “as early in the project development process as practicable”).  For this both a maximum and minimum number of days from expected submittal should be established. 
  6. A standardized application form should be developed for the ease of all parties on what information is needed.  Many of the items required in the PBR allow for the creation of standardized forms which should be done. 
  7. The requirement for an interconnection study has to be submitted should be waived for projects of less than 20MW.  These projects generally connect to the distribution system.  Since Dominion generally studies all projects through a combined study process, no studies are available until the interconnection agreement is received which is to late, given the large deposits required. 
  8. The entire interaction between DEQ and DHR needs to be reviewed and revamped. 
  9. The Department of Historical Resources (DHR) needs more resources.  At the moment their review of the architectural and archeological is the gating item.  The Governor should request more resources for DHR as part of the budget cycle.  Further, the Governor should instruct the DHR to create an expedited process whereby for a fee the architectural and archeological reports are reviewed within a fixed time frame.  In addition an expedited process should be created for the receipt of the site reference numbers in VCRIS (Virginia Cultural Resource Information System).   These numbers are required to even submit the relevant reports and to get them currently is taking months.   
  10. A clear mechanism and forms need to be established for when an LLC which holds a permit is sold to another owner.

4. Transmission line Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN).  The Governor should advocate for a change § 56-265.2 such that transmission lines of any voltage which are less than 1000’ should not require a CPCN.  The requirement that any transmission lines above 138KiloVolts requires a CPCN.  For very short runs this should not be a requirement.  Currently all new substations have to be in line with the existing transmission line or immediately adjacent.  This severely limits the area which can be used, raising the cost of the solar facilities.

CommentID: 66473