The Interconnection Innovation e-Xchange (i2X) offers technical assistance to directly support stakeholders in improving interconnection practices and processes for electricity distribution and transmission systems. The technical assistance is specific to the interconnection of clean energy technologies including solar, wind, storage, or electric vehicle charging facilities, or a hybrid integration of these technologies. This technical assistance funds the national labs directly to perform the work for the selected projects and does not provide any direct funding or financial assistance to selected organizations or any third parties (e.g., applicant’s consultants, partnering organizations).

2023 Technical Assistance Projects 

The 2023 technical assistance projects collaborate with national labs and technical assistance recipients in key areas.

Partner: Buffalo Renewables Inc.
National Labs: Sandia National Laboratories and National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Project Description: This project is analyzing methodologies for developing distributed wind-specific hosting capacity maps to understand how hosting capacity analysis can better represent distributed wind and distributed PV. This project also includes an assessment of the New York value stack calculator to understand how it differs for wind and solar resources.

Partner: City of Loveland, Colorado Water & Power
National Lab: National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Project Description: This project is working to establish standard operating procedures (SOP) and protocols for streamlining distributed energy resource (DER) interconnection. This includes developing a roadmap and guidelines for integrating and automating the interconnection technical screening process and a high-level SOP for standardizing DER data needed throughout the interconnection application process.

Partner: Coalition for Community Solar Access
National Lab: Sandia National Laboratories
Project Description: This project is assisting member organizations and utility partners in establishing guidance on the appropriate application for direct transfer trip to resolve islanding concerns.

Partners: Commonwealth Edison/Xcel Energy
National Lab: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Project Description: This project is creating an end-to-end process and best practices guide to implementing flexible interconnection, including a generic template of key interconnection and operational agreements between utilities and customers, to enable flexible interconnection. This is part of a broader i2X initiative to support efforts in the area of flexible interconnection standards and implementation.

Partner: Duquesne Light Company
National Lab: Sandia National Laboratories
Project Description: This project is working to establish interconnection study automation processes and protocols to increase the utility’s capacity to service distributed energy resource interconnection requests.

Partner: Enphase Energy
National Lab: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Project Description: This project is developing a technical report on the impacts of power control system-enabled distributed energy resources on service transformers.

Partner: Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities
National Lab: National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Project Description: This project is working to establish interconnection protocols and guidelines that will allow the state to meet its clean energy deployment goals.

Partner: New Mexico Public Regulation Commission
National Lab: National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Project Description: This project is assisting an ongoing hosting capacity analysis pilot project to determine if alternative strategies could reduce grid upgrades needed to accommodate more solar.

Partner: Oregon Public Utility Commission
National Lab: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Project Description: This project is developing hosting capacity analysis guidelines to optimize distributed energy resource deployment in the state of Oregon.

Partner: Sacramento Municipal Utility District
National Lab: National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Project Description: This project is working to leverage power control systems (PCS) in the utility’s interconnection study process, understanding how to model these systems, and conducting technical analysis to create flexible interconnection agreements.

Partner: Siva Powers America Inc.
National Lab: Sandia National Laboratories
Project Description: This project is developing interconnection processes and guidelines for non-inverter-based distributed energy resources. This will help to lay the foundation for standards and interconnection process evolution that provides a pathway to interconnect these resources.

Partner: Solar and Storage Industries Institute
National Lab: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Project Description: This project is developing a publicly facing modeling study that shows the financial impact of curtailment methods used in flexible interconnection arrangements on community solar and other distributed energy resources projects. This project is part of a broader i2X initiative to support efforts in the area of flexible interconnection standards and implementation.
 

General

  • Cost allocation methodologies for grid upgrades that enable fast-track interconnection study
  • Incorporating equity and energy justice into interconnection services or processes  
  • Educational materials for standardization, workforce training, and new grid-edge technologies  
  • New practices for interconnection services and agreements such as flexible interconnection
  • Pilot demonstration of cloud-based, grid-model interconnection services, e.g., AEMO grid service.

Distribution Electricity System  

  • Engineering alternative solutions to direct transfer trip grid upgrades
  • Cybersecurity protocols for secured grid data access to interconnection-related grid data     
  • Improving or implementing hosting capacity maps and impact studies
  • Methods for prescreening and interconnection planning for community-based renewables
  • Integrated grid planning and interconnection queue management
  • Processes and procedures for distribution versus sub-transmission interconnections
  • Data metrics, analytics, and scorecards for DER interconnection performance
  • Benefits and risks of publishing grid data, by specific items or in groups

Transmission Electricity System 

  • Practices for affected systems interconnection studies on transmission grid networks
  • Interconnection queue pre-screening options such as heat maps and informational studies
  • Interconnection-related network upgrade estimation tools 
  • Data metrics, analytics, and scorecards for interconnection services performance  

Examples of activities and products generated by technical assistance:   

  1. Grid modeling and technical analysis
  2. Case studies and technical reports or presentations  
  3. Models or software code   
  4. Subject matter facilitation, gap analysis, and technical road mapping
  5. Training workshops and webinars

The i2X team reviews and evaluates each application according to the merit review criteria, program policy factors, and the overall portfolio of proposed projects. The i2X team scores each application’s merits by agreeing or disagreeing with assigned statements on a scale shown below. These statements are the merit review criteria. The scale is applied for scoring merit review criteria only.

Not Applicable/Unknown
(0 points)
Strongly Disagree
(0 points)
Disagree
(1 point)
Agree
(3 points)
Strongly Agree
(5 points)

Application and Merit Review Criteria

Scope of Proposed Project

  • The proposed project seeks to address challenges specific to the grid interconnection of solar, wind, storage, electric vehicle charging facilities, or a hybrid integration of these technologies.
  • The applicant and its partners are directly involved in dealing with the interconnection challenge.
  • Technical assistance activities or outputs proposed are specific, realistic, and can be completed before the end of 2023.
  • Success criteria of the technical assistance are well-defined, and the results of the technical assistance are likely to have a positive impact by the end of 2024.

Significance and Scale

  • Success criteria of the technical assistance include direct benefits to underserved or disadvantaged communities or groups.  
  • The applicant has identified other organizations that are willing to engage during the technical assistance to maximize opportunities of learning and implementing solutions.
  • Once completed, the results of the technical assistance will be reasonably adaptable by many organizations.
  • Once completed, the results of the technical assistance will be reasonably adaptable at regional or national levels.

Readiness and Resources

  • The applicant has committed staff time, data, or any other resources needed to support the technical assistance effort with the national laboratory sufficient to complete the scope of work by the end of 2023.   
  • The proposed technical assistance project is specific enough to allow for an early start date, no longer than 30 business days from the announced selection. This includes but is not limited to permission to access datasets or information, or to sign formal approvals or paperwork needed to start the project (e.g., a non-disclosure agreement). 

Program Goals and Policy Factors

The i2X team applies the following factors when reviewing and evaluating technical assistance applications to select the most impactful projects.

  • The proposed project aligns well with the i2X program goals, priorities, on-going efforts, and planned activities.
  • The proposed project aligns well with DOE’s programmatic interests and priorities.
  • Technical assistance needs match the current national lab technical capabilities and resources. 
  • The proposed project expands the geographic diversity of organizations which received or are receiving support from the U.S. government.   
  • The proposed project supports organization with limited resources and urgent needs.
  • The proposed project expands direct support to underserved or disadvantaged communities or groups.
  • The proposed project incorporates equity, diversity, and inclusion elements.

  • Applicants for technical assistance must be U.S.-based organizations facing direct interconnection-related challenges. Such organizations include but are not limited to electric utilities; grid operators; transmission owners; solar, storage, and wind industries; state, local, tribal, and territorial governments; electricity regulation organizations; engineering research organizations; advocacy nonprofits; and other relevant non-utility electric organizations.
  • To maximize the impact of technical assistance, applications that include representatives from key stakeholder groups, including underserved communities or groups, are highly encouraged.
  • Applications for technical assistance that directly benefit a group of engaged organizations seeking to improve interconnection practices and processes are highly encouraged.   
  • The scope of technical assistance should not exceed six months of dedicated full-time work and engagement.
  • The technical assistance should not be for purposes that can be satisfied in less than one month of dedicated full-time support. In such cases, please use i2X Office Hours and schedule a call.
  • Applications from individual U.S. persons seeking technical, legal, or engineering consultations for individual renewable generation or storage projects are not eligible.