Axios Pro Exclusive Content

FERC looks to unclog the interconnect bottleneck

Data: Electricity Markets and Policy, Berkeley Lab; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

All five FERC commissioners voted this morning to issue a draft rule aimed at fixing the electricity sector’s interconnection queues.

Why it matters: The wait to connect an energy project to the electric grid has nearly doubled to almost four years, hampering investment and slowing the country's path to decarbonization.

  • If you thought the wait for a new F-150 Lightning was interminable, try bringing your solar, wind or battery project online.

What's happening: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says the rule is aimed at clearing backlogs and discouraging "speculative projects" that can clog the queue.

Driving the news: As demand for renewable energy projects has skyrocketed, requests to connect all those projects to U.S. electricity grids have soared.

  • There were 1.1 TW of solar and energy storage projects seeking to connect to the grid at the end of 2021 — more than the country's current generating capacity.
  • Caveat: The interconnection queue is a list of proposed projects, most of which are ultimately withdrawn.

The bottom line: Q1 marked the solar energy sector's weakest quarter in two years, in part due to interconnection queues. Wood Mackenzie cited interconnection queues, and associated costs, as a key driver in causing a further Q2 contraction.

Of note: The FERC meeting had been set to begin today at 10am ET, but was delayed. It was underway as we finished up this story.

What they're saying: "The real root cause of the problem is limited transmission capacity," Rob Gramlich, president of Grid Strategies, wrote in an email.

  • "For that, we need the proactive transmission planning that FERC proposed in a different rulemaking, and the transmission tax credit that Congress is considering as part of a budget reconciliation bill. But there is more that needs to be done on interconnection specifically."
Go deeper