Interconnection for Net Metered Systems
PGE and PacifiCorp Customers
The Oregon Public Utilities Commission (PUC) adopted new rules for net metering for PGE and PacifiCorp customers in July 2007 with Order 07-319, raising the individual system capacity limit from 25 kilowatts (kW) to two megawatts (MW) for non-residential applications. (The rules do not apply to customers of Idaho Power, which provides net metering to Oregon customers pursuant to rules adopted by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission.) The limit on individual residential systems is 25 kW. Systems that generate electricity using solar power, wind power, hydropower, fuel cells or biomass resources are eligible. Net metered systems must be intended primarily to offset part or all of a customer’s requirements for electricity. Utilities may not limit the aggregate capacity of net metered systems.
The PUC rules include three levels of interconnection for net-metered systems, and require the use of a standard application, a standard agreement, and reasonable procedural timelines for utilities and applicants. Each utility must designate an employee or office from which an applicant can obtain basic application forms and information through an informal process. With the exception of certain inverter-based systems 25 kW or less, a manual, external disconnect switch is required. Utilities may not require customers to purchase additional liability insurance or to name the utility as an "additional insured" on the customer's liability policy.
Oregon's rules provide for three levels of interconnection review:
- Level 1: applies to certified, inverter-based systems up to 25 kW in capacity that comply with IEEE standards and UL 1741. A system is considered "certified" if it has been tested and listed by a nationally recognized testing lab. Systems must pass specific technical screens. Utilities may not charge application fees or other fees for Level 1 review.
- Level 2: applies to certified systems up to 2 MW that comply with IEEE standards and UL 1741, as applicable, but do not qualify for Level 1 review. A system is considered "certified" if it has been tested and listed by a nationally recognized testing lab. Systems must pass specific technical screens. Interconnection to area networks is permitted, with limitations. Utilities may charge fees of up to $50 plus $1 per kW of system capacity, plus "the reasonable cost of any required minor modifications to the electric distribution system or additional review." Costs for engineering work performed as part of an impact study or interconnection facilities study are limited to $100 per hour.
- Level 3: applies to systems that do not qualify for Level 1 review or Level 2 review. Systems must pass specific technical screens. Interconnection to area networks is permitted, with limitations. Utilities may charge fees of up to $100 plus $2 per kW of system capacity, plus charges for time spent on any required impact or facilities studies. Costs for engineering work performed as part of an impact study or interconnection facilities study are limited to $100 per hour. If a utility must install facilities in order to accommodate the interconnection of a system, the applicant must pay for the costs of such facilities.
Customers of Municipal Utilities, Cooperatives and People's Utility Districts
Oregon's municipal utilities, electric cooperatives and people's utility districts must offer customers net metering pursuant to OR Revised Statutes 757.300. Systems that generate electricity using solar power, wind power, hydropower, fuel cells or biomass resources are eligible. Net-metered systems must be intended primarily to offset part or all of a customer’s requirements for electricity. The aggregated capacity of all net-metered systems is limited to 0.5% of a utility's historic single-hour peak load.
The Oregon Building Codes Division has developed interconnection guidelines for all utilities. Systems must be installed according to the Oregon Electric Specialty Code (essentially NEC Article 690) and relevant IEEE standards, and must employ UL-listed equipment. A manual external disconnect switch is not required in the guidelines, but some utilities require this switch in their tariffs. Additional liability insurance is not required. Utilities are exempt from any liability for loss, injury or death related to the interconnection of a net-metered system.
Interconnection for Small Generator Facilities
In June 2009, the PUC issued Order No. 09-196 and adopted administrative rules for the interconnection of small generator facilities up to 10 MW. These rules were finalized in September 2009, when the PUC approved changes made to the three investor-owned utilities’ interconnection forms and agreements. While Idaho Power is not subject to the interconnection standards for net metered systems, it is subject to these standards. There are four tiers of review for small generating facilities, based on system capacity: 25 kW, 2 MW, non-exporting systems up to 10 MW, and other systems. Application fees are differentiated, based on tier. The maximum application fee is $100 for Tier 1, $500 for Tier 2, and $1000 for Tiers 3 and 4. There may be additional costs if an evaluation is required, but the applicant must agree to this cost prior to the evaluation being conducted. The rules for the first two tiers mirror the interconnection standards for net-metered systems.
Interconnection for Large Generator Facilities
In April 2010, the PUC issued Order No. 10-132 for the interconnection of large generator facilities, defined as systems larger than 20 MW. The PUC approved interconnection procedures and a standard interconnection agreement based on FERC's Large Generator Interconnection Procedures and Large Generator Interconnection Agreement.